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DC State Board of Education Advances High School Credit Flexibility

Thursday, December 17, 2015

(Washington, DC) - In a unanimous vote last night, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) approved a resolution that will open new opportunities for high school students across the District.  

The resolution, SR15-6, advises the State Superintendent of Education to create regulations that embrace the findings of the SBOE’s High School Credit Flexibility Task Force.  The task force’s report noted that not all students learn at the same pace, nor best demonstrate understanding of content based on spending 120 hours in a traditional classroom setting. 

The chair of the task force and Ward 1 SBOE Member, Laura Wilson Phelan, noted that, “the intent of the task force’s recommendations is to lower the barriers for DC high schools to be able to offer a world of possibility to our students.” 

The SBOE agreed with the task force that the best way to move forward with credit flexibility would be with a waiver. This would preserve the current Carnegie unit system for a majority of the District’s schools, but provide schools with pathways for innovation. Schools that want to offer a different type of course, or set of courses, would then apply for a waiver. This opens to the door to competency-based learning, which would allow students to progress through academic material at their own pace upon demonstrating mastery of content.  

The resolution also echoes the task force’s recommendation that students should be able to test out of world language and math classes if they pass a state-approved assessment. This common sense approach prevents students from being forced to sit through classes when they have already mastered the material.  
The regulations that are developed by the State Superintendent will be published in the DC Register in early 2016 and will be back before the SBOE for a final vote when a 30-day public comment period is completed.   

Jack Jacobson, SBOE President and Ward 2 Member, said, “The work of the task force has been outstanding. The opportunity gap in our public schools is staggering and the State Board’s vote will open a new way for us to meet each and every student’s needs.”    

The State Board of Education provides policy leadership, support, advocacy, and oversight of public education to ensure that every student is valued and learns the skills and knowledge necessary to become informed, competent, and contributing global citizens. More information about the SBOE can be found at sboe.dc.gov