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Dorn Proposes Changes in State Assessment System
New learning standards provide an opportunity for Washington state to streamline high school exit exams

OLYMPIA — December 13, 2012 — Washington state needs “exit” exams to ensure that every student who receives a diploma — no matter where he or she went to school — has the knowledge and skills expected of high school graduates. Students in the Class of 2012 were required to pass two exit exams. By the time this year’s 10th graders graduate, it will be five. State Superintendent Randy Dorn supports testing, but feels that five is too many and too expensive. He will propose that the Legislature reduce that number.

The cost of the state assessment system is high, both in terms of time and money. Exit exams are estimated to be $30 each. If students don’t pass one or more of these exams, the state provides other ways for students to demonstrate their abilities, such as the Collection of Evidence (COE). The COE is a portfolio of classroom work prepared by the student with instructional support from a teacher. The COE is currently $400 per student in each content area.

Testing is important, but over-testing creates a system in which too much classroom time is devoted to preparing for tests, taking tests and preparing to re-take tests or moving to alternatives when students fail to pass.

Washington is in the midst of changing its standards in math and English language arts with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. This provides an opportunity to take a look at our assessment system and make some commonsense changes without reducing accountability or lowering standards.

Students in the class of 2015 are required to pass five exit exams to graduate from high school:

  1. Reading High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE)
  2. Writing HSPE
  3. Biology End-of-Course (EOC) exam
  4. Algebra I EOC
  5. Geometry EOC

In January, Dorn will propose to the Legislature that we reduce the five required tests to three:

  1. Reading/writing HSPE
  2. Biology EOC
  3. Algebra I EOC


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

For more information

Assessment Overview

Graduation Requirements

Common Core State Standards


The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 4/23/2013

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