World Languages
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World Languages


Update on World Languages Graduation Requirement from the State Board of Education

In 2009, the Legislature approved the opportunity for students to earn 24 credits for graduation, subject to a phased-in implementation, but they also directed that no changes to graduation requirements that result in additional cost to districts could be implemented without legislative approval and funding. As of fall 2012, the State Board of Education approved moving forward with providing direction and support to the Legislature to encourage the state to move forward during the next session with a schedule for phasing in the 24 credit Career and College Ready Graduation Requirement (which includes 2 credits of world language). But, currently, there is no change in the high school graduation requirement in world languages for the class of 2016, and there is no timetable for when the world languages graduation requirement would be implemented.

Minimum Requirements for College Admissions

HEC Board’s Minimum High School Core Course Requirements: State law requires the Higher Education Coordinating Board to establish minimum requirements for freshman admission to Washington’s public four-year universities and college. To be admitted as freshmen, high school students must complete the following minimum core course requirements, adopted by the Board in 1987:

  • Four years of English, including three years of literature and composition.
  • Three years of mathematics, including algebra, geometry and advanced mathematics.
  • Three years of social science.
  • Two years of science, including one year of laboratory science (the equivalent of biology, chemistry, physics, or principles of technology) Note: Students applying for college freshman admission, beginning in fall 2010, will need to complete two years of laboratory science, including one year of algebra-based biology, chemistry or physics).
  • Two years of the same foreign language, Native American language, or American Sign language.
  • One year of fine, visual or performing arts or electives from any of the other required subjects.

Relevant Washington Administrative Code (WAC)

WAC 180-51-066 - Minimum requirements for high school graduation— Students entering the ninth grade on or after July 1, 2009
Five and one-half electives: Study in a world language other than English or study in a world culture may satisfy any or all of the required electives. The assessment of achieved competence in these subject areas is determined at the local district level.

WAC 180-51-050 - High school credit — Definition
The term "high school credit" shall mean: (1) Grades nine through 12 or the equivalent of a four-year high school program, and grades seven and eight under the provisions of RCW 28A.230.090 (4) and (5): (a) One hundred fifty hours of planned instructional activities approved by the district; or (b) Satisfactory demonstration by a student of clearly identified competencies established pursuant to a process defined in written district policy. Districts are strongly advised to confirm with the higher education coordinating board that the award of competency-based high school credit meets the minimum college core admissions standards set by the higher education coordinating board for admission into a public, baccalaureate institution.

WAC 180-51-025 - Local school district application of state requirements
The content of courses and the determination of which courses satisfy particular subject area requirements and whether a particular course may satisfy more than one subject area requirement shall be determined locally in accordance with written policies adopted by boards of directors of districts: Provided, That if a foreign language graduation requirement is established, credits earned in American sign language shall count toward the completion of the requirement.

WAC 392-210-025 - Credits earned in academic core subjects
To be considered for a Washington state honors award, a student must have earned, during grades nine through eleven, at least seventy-five percent of the credits required for graduation from his or her high school including a minimum of ten credits in the academic core subjects of English, mathematics, science, social studies, and foreign language.


Competency-Based Credits

Students in Washington state may be able to earn up to four high school credits by demonstrating their proficiency in a language other than English.

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