Social Studies Graduation Requirements Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: March 2014
RCW 28A.230.090 authorizes SBE to establish some of the state’s graduation requirements. SBE has established essential credit requirements, a culminating project, and a high school and beyond plan (WAC 180-51-061, WAC 180-51-066, and WAC 180-51-067).
WAC 180-51-066 requires 2.5 credits of social studies for graduation for students enrolled through the graduating class of 2015. This requirement includes 1 credit of US History and Government, 1 credit of Contemporary World History, Geography and Problems (often referred to as Contemporary World Problems or CWP), and .5 credits of Washington State History and Government.
WAC 180-51-067 requires 3 credits of social studies for graduation for students enrolled in the graduating class of 2016 and beyond. This requirement includes 1 credit of US History, 1 credit of Contemporary World History, Geography and Problems (often referred to as Contemporary World Problems or CWP), .5 credit of Civics, and .5 credit of social studies elective.
The 2009 Legislature passed a law (RCW 28A.230.093) requiring the State Board of Education to add at least .5 credit in civics if SBE were to increase the number of credits in social studies.
RCW 28A.230.093 specifically requires that the content of the civics requirement must include, but not be limited to:
Districts award credit per written district policy (see the Credit FAQ). Districts are required to ensure that students are able to meet the Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) for each content area. OSPI does recommend a scope and sequence for coursework, but districts have the final authority in course construction and credit equivalences.
7. If my district currently offers a .5 credit Civics course which fulfills .5 credit of the Contemporary World Problems (CWP) requirement, does my district need to offer an additional .5 credit Civics course?
No. Districts are not required to offer an additional civics credit as long as the existing civics course includes all of the requirements stated in RCW 28A.230.093. However, districts need to ensure students are able to earn 3 credits in social studies.
Some districts that currently include Civics as a semester CWP course may choose to meet the civics credit requirement while at the same time meeting the CWP requirement. This approach would create flexibility for districts to teach some other one-credit course, such as 9th or 10th grade world history.
Many of the civics standards that apply to the new Civics credit requirement currently reside at the 11th grade in the existing “US History and Government” standards. OSPI completed a revision of the social studies standards in 2013. The GLEs for Civics are now placed at both the 11th and 12th grade.
Many schools/districts are teaching Washington State History and Government in 7th grade, to 7th grade standards and grade level expectations. Washington law does not permit districts to award credit for course work taken prior to 9th grade if the academic level of the course work does not exceed the requirements for 8th grade classes i.e., is not at a high school academic level. State Board of Education rule required students to earn .5 credits in Washington State History and Government. This policy conflict put districts in a bind because technically, many districts could not award credit due to the academic level of the class.
The new policy provides greater flexibility for districts and students. Districts can offer Washington State History and Government at a middle or high school level. If offered at a high school academic level, districts may still choose to award credit. If offered at a middle school academic level, students can still satisfy a graduation requirement. Satisfactory completion of the requirement must be noted on the students’ transcripts.
OSPI recommends delivery of Washington State History content in the 7th grade. The current OSPI WAC 392-410-120 requires “a one-semester course -- i.e., 90 (50 minute) hours of instruction -- or its equivalent in Washington State history and government … in grades seven through twelve combined, but not at each grade level.” Alternatively, WAC 180-51-050 permits districts to establish formal policies/procedures for awarding competency-based credit in any subject. The successful completion of this credit requirement must be indicated on students’ transcripts.
Yes. If a student failed or did not take the course at the middle level, then a district must provide opportunities to satisfy the credit in high school. However, both the class of 2016 WAC (180-51-067) and class of 2012-2015 WAC (180-51-066) provide exceptions for students who have transferred from schools in another state after the completion of 10th grade or for those students that have already successfully completed a state history and government course in another state.
World History is not a specific graduation requirement. However, a district could choose to offer this course as the .5 district choice or social studies elective credit. Additionally, districts may also consider offering a contemporary world history course and count this towards the required Contemporary World Problems (CWP) credit.
A course in World History may be counted as a CWP credit if the course is taught as “contemporary world history”. Ancient world history, for example, would not meet the requirements of a CWP credit. Please refer to the Washington State K-12 Social Studies Learning Standards for more information.
WAC 180-51-067 states, “One credit shall be required in contemporary world history, geography, and problems. Courses in economics, sociology, civics, political science, international relations, or related courses with emphasis on contemporary problems may be accepted as equivalencies.”
The “geography and “problems” course work should be contemporary geography and contemporary world problems.
The Washington State K-12 Social Studies Learning Standards address what students should know and be able to do when they earn high school credit. Districts should ensure that requirements for the awarding of a CWP credit also meet the standards.
WAC 180-51-067 added a .5 credit, government-based civics requirement that addresses the study of government. While some principles and foundations of government will likely be addressed in teaching United States History, the formal “civics” credit requirement will house the bulk of the government content.
OSPI’s recommended scope and sequence and the Washington State K-12 Social Studies Learning Standards recommend that US history be taught at the 11th grade and primarily address history of the 20th and 21st centuries.
16. Students will be required to earn 3.0 credits in social studies for the class of 2016 and beyond. While 2.5 of those credits are prescribed in WAC 180-51-067, some districts currently offer Economics, AP World History, AP European History, and AP Human Geography. How are these credits accounted for in the class of 2016 graduation requirements?
Students will be required to earn 3.0 credits in social studies. While 2.5 of those credits are prescribed in WAC 180-51-067, an additional .5 credit (semester course equivalent) is considered “district choice.”