Washington State schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal unveiled a new plan that will allow student work to go toward graduation requirements. Under the plan, students age 16 and up will earn one elective credit for work they pursue outside of school. The work can be any that the student chooses but must be verified by their school.
Reydal said the new credit-for work plan responds to student requests for more balance in and recognition of their work-school obligations. The superintendent pointed to statewide surveys that showed many students must work outside of school to financially support their families in times of economic upheaval.
“An increasing number of students say they are under a growing amount of pressure,” Reykdal said as he unveiled the plan on August 4. “Students are saying they’re looking for more connections between where they want to go and what they’re learning. This is about how students choose their time.”
A single credit in Washington public high schools’ credit system equals one year of class. To graduate and receive a high school diploma, students must complete 24 credits. Of the 24 credits, seven are elective and 17 are for core academic subjects (for example English, math and science).
Starting in the 2023-24 school, one elective credit will be given for 360 hours of work for students who have reached the legal work age (16). One half credit will be applied to 180 hours of work. To get their work credit, students will need to fill out forms and verify employment through their school. Schools will be required to contact employers and monitor student progress throughout the year.
Washington business leaders applaud the plan.
“Helping equip the next generation to succeed in the workforce is critically important for the health of our families, our communities and our economy,” Dave Mastin, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Association of Washington Business, told Clark County Today. “Giving students the opportunity to earn elective credits for their after-school and summer jobs validates the important role that work plays in their growth and development, and will hopefully encourage more young people to get a start on acquiring the important life skills that are gained through work experience.”
The plan is still in process. Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has started a work of creating rules for the proposal which includes seeking community and district administrator input. Hearings will be scheduled to gather input on how to best implement the program and whether to seek additional funding from the Legislature in the coming year.