FAQ - Math
math FAQ

 

Math Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: October 2014

  1. What is the State Board of Education’s (SBE) role in math education?
  2. When did three math credits become a graduation requirement?
  3. Starting with the Class of 2013, what courses must a student take to earn the first two math credits?
  4. What courses may students take for the third math credit?
  5. Can students take two of the required courses at the same time?
  6. How are CTE-equivalent courses determined?
  7. Would career and technical education (CTE) mathematics courses satisfy the third credit of mathematics?
  8. If a student satisfies a math credit with a CTE mathematics course, will they need to earn a second credit in CTE to meet the CTE graduation requirement?
  9. Can physics count as the third credit of math?
  10. Can Advanced Placement Computer Science count as the third credit of math?
  11. Can a support class in conjunction with algebra work for the third credit?
  12. Could a student take algebra I for two years, counting the first credit as algebra I and the second year as a third credit?
  13. Can students take algebra I for two periods and count it as the first and third credit of math?
  14. Can a math class designed for those students who haven’t passed an end-of-course assessments count as the third credit of math?
  15. Can students begin earning the three credits with a more advanced math class than Algebra I?
  16. What are the math assessment graduation requirements?
  17. Which courses have end-of-course math assessments?
  18. Do students have to pass the math end-of-course assessments before they attempt the third credit of math?
  19. Is a school district required to use an Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction-recommended math curricular program?

1.  What is the State Board of Education’s (SBE) role in math education?

The Board provides advocacy and strategic oversight of public education RCW 28A.305.130, and establishes state minimum graduation requirements.

The Board also sets the cut scores on the state math assessments that students must attain to meet or exceed state standards. The SBE will approve the list of Career and Technical Education (CTE) math-equivalent courses and curriculum frameworks that will be developed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Equivalent CTE courses are CTE courses with content that aligns not only with CTE standards but also with math standards, that meet math graduation requirements (RCW 28A.700.070).

The 2007 Legislature gave the Board one-time responsibilities in math.

In addition to other responsibilities, the Legislature directed the Board to add a third credit of math to graduation requirements, and to prescribe the content of those credits. The SBE conducted extensive studies and outreach to stakeholders and, in 2008, the SBE wrote rules (WAC-180-51-066) establishing 3 credits of math as a graduation requirement for students beginning with the Class of 2013 (students who entered 9th grade after July 1, 2009). The rules specified the content of the three credits (see questions 3 and 4 below).

The 2013 Legislature (EHB 1450) gave the SBE the responsibility of setting the score for graduation (earning a certificate of academic achievement) on the Smarter Balanced math assessment (SBAC). The SBE must set the score by the end of the 2014-15 school year.

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2.  When did three math credits become a graduation requirement?

At the direction of the 2007 Legislature, the SBE amended the graduation requirements rule (WAC 180-51-066) to add a third credit of math and prescribe the content of those credits. The rule was adopted in July 2008 and is in effect for the graduating classes of 2013 through 2015 (students who entered the 9th grade on or after July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2012). WAC 180-51-067 applies to the Class of 2016 to the Class of 2018 (students who entered the 9th grade after July 1, 2012, and before June 30, 2015), but made no changes to the math requirement.

In 2014 the Legislature authorized the SBE to write rules to implement 24-credit Career- and College-Ready Graduation Requirements. WAC 180-51-068 applies to the Class of 2019 and beyond (students who entered 9th grade after July 1, 2015), unless the student’s home district applied for a waiver to extend implementation of the 24-credit graduation requirements by up to two years. For students in the Class of 2019 and beyond three credits of math will be required, but the third credit is chosen by the student (see questions 3 and 4 below).

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3.  Starting with the Class of 2013, what courses must a student take to earn the first two math credits?

Students must take Algebra I or Integrated Math 1, and Geometry or Integrated Math 2, or earn credits in equivalent career and technical education (CTE) courses (see questions 6, 7, and 8 below for additional information on CTE-equivalent courses).

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4. What courses may students take for the third math credit?

Students in the Class of 2013 to 2018 (students who entered the 9th grade after July 1, 2012, and before June 30, 2015) should take Algebra II or Integrated Math III, or a rigorous, high school-level math course that meets the student’s education and career goals identified in the student’s high school and beyond plan, subject to the following requirements:

  • Choose a course that is based on a career-oriented program of study identified in their high school and beyond plan.
  • Meet with a high school representative and their parent/guardian (or designee if a parent or guardian is unavailable) to discuss the student’s high school and beyond plan and the requirements for credit bearing two- and four-year college level mathematics courses.
  • Sign a form, along with the high school representative and parent/guardian, to acknowledge that: 1) the meeting was held, 2) the required information was discussed, and 3) the parent/guardian (or designee if a parent or guardian is unavailable) agrees that the course is more appropriate for the student’s education and career goals.

For students in the Class of 2019 and beyond (unless the student’s home district applied for a waiver extending the implementation of the 24-credit graduation requirements by up to two years), E2SHB 6552, passed by the Legislature in 2014, specifies that the content of the third credit of math may be chosen by the student based on the student’s interest and their high school and beyond plan, with the agreement of the student’s parent or guardian or agreement of the school counselor or principal. Rules adopted by the SBE, WAC 180-51-068, clarify that the school must give precedence to the direction of the parents or guardian, if provided, and that request for agreement should be made in the predominant language of the parents or guardian to the extent feasible.

Students and educators should be aware that required state high school math assessments starting in 2015, and required for graduation for the Class of 2019, will include Algebra II content.

The State Board of Education intends for the third credit to be a rigorous, high school-level math course that will serve the student’s education and career goals. Courses in which the majority of the math is at a K-8 level would not qualify for the third credit. Traditional math examples may include, but are not limited to: statistics, discrete math, linear algebra, and mathematical modeling.

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5.  Can students take two of the required courses at the same time?

Yes.

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6.  How are CTE-equivalent courses determined?

CTE-equivalent courses are CTE courses that meet math graduation requirements, and have content that aligns not only with CTE standards but also math standards. Each local district determines CTE-equivalent courses, and are required to do so by law (RCW 28A.230.097). A sample of CTE credit equivalency policy and procedure is available on our website. An Equivalency Toolkit can be found on OSPI's website.

In addition, E2SSB 6552 passed in 2014, directs OSPI to develop curriculum frameworks for a list of CTE courses with content equivalent to science or math courses that meet high school graduation requirements. The list of math-equivalent CTE courses and curriculum frameworks will be approved by the SBE. The bill, codified in RCW 28A.230.010, requires that boards of directors must provide high school students with the opportunity to access at least one CTE course that is considered equivalent to a mathematics course or at least one CTE that is considered equivalent to a science course as determined by OSPI and approved by the SBE. Students may access such courses at high schools, inter-district cooperatives, skill centers or branch or satellite skill centers, or through online learning or applicable running start vocational courses.

School boards of districts with fewer than two thousand students may apply to the SBE for a temporary waiver from the requirements of RCW 28A.230.010.

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7.  Would career and technical education (CTE) mathematics courses satisfy the third credit of mathematics?

Yes. If most of the course is rigorous high school level math, the title of the class is immaterial. CTE math examples might include, but are not limited to, OSPI-approved frameworks in: robotics, engineering design I and II, drafting for civil and architectural engineering, construction math, applied mathematics, business economics math, financial literacy, and business statistics.

CTE model frameworks are available on the CTE pages of the OSPI website.

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8.  If a student satisfies a math credit with a CTE mathematics course, will they need to earn a second credit in CTE to meet the CTE graduation requirement?

Students in the Class of 2016 (entering ninth grade in 2012-2013) and beyond, who earn a math graduation requirement credit through a CTE course locally determined to be equivalent to a math course will not be required to earn a second credit in the CTE course subject; the single CTE course meets two graduation requirements (WAC 180-51-067(7)(a)). More information may be found in the CTE Graduation Requirement FAQ.

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9.  Can physics count as the third credit of math?

Yes. If the majority of the course is high school level math, the title of the class is immaterial. Districts will need to make these determinations locally by clearly identifying the standards and competencies the course represents.

Students will need to earn the minimum state-required credits, as well as any local credits, to satisfy graduation requirements. In other words, if physics counts as the third math credit, the student will still need, under current rules, to earn separately the state-required two credits of science. The “two-for-one” policy for the Class of 2016 and beyond, only applies to CTE courses locally determined to be equivalent to academic course.

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10.  Can Advanced Placement Computer Science count as the third credit of math?

RCW 28A.230.097 requires school district board of directors to approve Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses as equivalent to high school mathematics or science, and must denote on a student's transcript that AP computer science qualifies as a math-based quantitative course for students who take the course in their senior year. In order for AP computer science to be an equivalency credit, the student must be enrolled-in or have successfully completed Algebra II.

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11.  Can a support class in conjunction with algebra work for the third credit?

No. The support class may count as an elective credit, but it cannot satisfy the third credit of math. Algebra I/integrated mathematics I and geometry/integrated mathematics II or their equivalent CTE courses form the basis of a student’s mathematical experiences. The intent of the third credit is to enrich and build upon those experiences.

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12.  Could a student take algebra I for two years, counting the first credit as algebra I and the second year as a third credit?

No. If a student repeats a course, each occurrence can only count toward one type of graduation requirement. The first time the student takes algebra I the student may meet one math credit for graduation. The second time the student takes algebra I it may count toward an elective credit.

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13.  Can students take algebra I for two periods and count it as the first and third credit of math?

No. If a student repeats a course, each occurrence can only count toward one type of graduation requirement. The first time the student takes algebra I the student may meet one math credit for graduation. The second time the student takes algebra I it may count toward an elective credit.

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14.  Can a math class designed for those students who haven’t passed an end-of-course assessments count as the third credit of math?

Yes, this type of class may count as the third credit of math if the following conditions are met:

  • The math class is rigorous, high school-level math that helps the students meet his or her education and career goals.
  • The math class is not the same as Algebra I or Integrated Math, or Geometry or Integrated Math 2 courses the student may have taken previously.

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15.  Can students begin earning the three credits with a more advanced math class than Algebra I?

Yes. There are two instances that may create the conditions for students to begin earning the three credits with a more advanced math class than algebra I:

  1. A student may take Algebra I prior to ninth grade but elect not to put the credit on his or her transcript.
  2. Based on written district policy, students may enroll in higher level classes that meet their high school and beyond plan; in effect, they “skip over” one or more lower level classes.

In either of the above instances, students will still need to earn three math credits toward high school graduation. If a student does not earn credit in Algebra I or Integrated Mathematics 1 (either because of “skipping over” a class or not requesting credit for a class taken prior to ninth grade), the student will need to earn credit in Geometry or Integrated Mathematics 2, and two other math credits.

Students will still be expected to meet proficiency on a state-mandated end-of-course (EOC) assessments.

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16.  What are the math assessment graduation requirements?

In 2013, the Legislature specified the assessment requirement for the graduating Classes of 2008 to 2019 and beyond (EHB 1450). Students in the Classes of 2013 and 2014 (entering 9th grade in 2008-09 or 2009-10) need to pass one math EOC exam to graduate. Students in the Classes of 2015 to 2018 will be graduating during years when the state will be transitioning to assessments aligned to new math standards, the Common Core State Standards. Students in these classes will have several options for meeting their math assessment requirement, including passing an EOC or passing the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessment (SBAC). The score required for graduation on the SBAC will be determined by the SBE for Washington students by the end of the 2014-15 school year, and initially it is likely to be different and lower than the score determined by the consortium of states for college and career readiness.

More information about assessments is available on the OSPI State Testing webpage. A table of graduation requirements for the classes of 2012 to 2017, including required assessments, is available on the SBE website.

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17. Which courses have end-of-course math assessments?

Algebra I/integrated mathematics I and geometry/integrated mathematics II have end-of-course assessments. Students enrolled in these courses, or their CTE-equivalents, will take the assessments during the last three weeks of the school year. Students in the Class of 2013 and beyond must meet proficiency in one EOC. More information about assessments is available on the OSPI State Testing webpage. A table of graduation requirements for the classes of 2012 to 2017, including required assessments, is available on the SBE website.

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18.  Do students have to pass the math end-of-course assessments before they attempt the third credit of math?

No.

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19.  Is a school district required to use an Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction-recommended math curricular program?

No. Although OSPI and SBE may recommend certain math programs, the local school district is entrusted with choosing the best curriculum for their students.

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