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1599 Webinar Q and A

1. How will the new rules affect students in an IEP (Individualized Education Program)?

For students with special education needs, the Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) is discontinued after the graduating class of 2021. Until then, students who are not appropriately served by the graduation pathway options and who qualify for a CIA may use the CIA assessment alternatives to demonstrate their skills and abilities that are commensurate with their IEPs. We know OSPI is actively working with districts to bolster and provide supports for students with IEPs to help as many students as possible meet one of the graduation pathway options. The determination of whether the graduation pathway options are appropriate for the student must be made by the student's IEP team.

Before and after the Class of 2021, WA-AIM (Washington Access to Instruction & Measurement) remains in place as part of state assessment graduation pathway option. A student with special education needs could meet the state assessment pathway through WA-AIM, if that is determined appropriate by their IEP team. 

For additional questions, you can reach out to the OSPI Special Education Department: 360-725-6075 or

2. Is it correct that the off-level scores (CIA Level 2/Basic) are no longer available to students receiving Special Education?

Students may earn a Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) through the Class of 2021, and until then, all the CIA alternative options are available, including using an off-level score on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. However, students with IEPs in the Class of 2022 and beyond must meet one of the eight graduation pathway options.  Off-level tests are not a graduation pathway option, and will not be available to students in the Class of 2022 and beyond.

 For students with significant cognitive disabilities, the WA-AIM is available (and would fulfill the state assessment pathway). For students receiving special education services whom WA-AIM would not be appropriate, the OSPI Special Education Department is providing guidance around how IEP teams can provide accommodations to students in meeting their graduation pathway requirement. 

For additional questions, you can reach out to the OSPI Special Education Department: 360-725-6075 or

3. It seems as if the language on “Transition Courses” as written in E2SHB 1599 could encompass general college placement agreements based on high school transcripts rather than a specific, clearly-defined course like Bridge to College?

The Board’s interpretation of the language in E2SHB 1599 is that any high school course that is used for placement into a college-level math or ELA course may meet this requirement. This would include Bridge to College Courses, but also could include courses that meet local placement agreements between districts and institutions of higher education.

4. Does the Career and Technical Education (CTE) graduation pathway option require two CTE credits in addition to the one that is currently required in the 24-credit graduation requirements--so that a student would need to take a total of three CTE credits to meet the graduation pathway option?

No. A one-credit CTE course that is used to meet credit graduation requirements could be part of a sequence of CTE courses that align with the student’s High School and Beyond Plan. The graduation pathway option may be met with two one-credit CTE courses, as long as both courses align with the student’s High School and Beyond Plan. 

5. Do the following points correctly summarize the Career and Technical Education (CTE) graduation pathway option in the State Board of Education proposed rules? A. Two credits of CTE courses are required B. The credits may be in more than one CTE program area, as long as they are aligned with the student’s High School and Beyond Plan C. The sequence “may” (not shall) include courses leading to workforce entry, state or nationally approved apprenticeships, or postsecondary education D. The sequence must include at least one course that meets the criteria for CTE preparatory programs or the curriculum requirements of Core Plus programs

Yes, these points are accurately summarize the CTE graduation pathway option. See the answer to question 6 for further clarification.

6. Does the Career and Technical Education (CTE) course sequence have to include a dual credit course or enable a student to earn an industry recognized credential?

The language in E2SHB 1599 reads (bold added for emphasis): “Complete a sequence of career and technical education courses that are relevant to a student's postsecondary pathway, including those leading to workforce entry, state or nationally approved apprenticeships, or postsecondary education, and that meet either: The curriculum requirements of core plus programs for aerospace, maritime, health care, information technology, or construction and manufacturing; or the minimum criteria identified in RCW 28A.700.030.”

So the sequence may include, but not “must” include (and are not limited to) courses leading to workforce entry, approved apprenticeships, etc.  
The statute further says: “Nothing in this subsection (1)(b)(viii) requires a student to enroll in a preparatory course that is approved under RCW 28A.700.030 for the purposes of demonstrating career and college readiness under this section.”

One source of confusion is the conflation of RCW 28A.700.030, which is about a CTE program, with the language in E2SHB 1599 which references CTE courses (not programs). 

The State Board of Education’s interpretation of E2SHB 1599 is that one of the CTE courses in the student’s course sequence must meet the RCW criteria of either leading to a certificate (not obtaining) or allowing students to earn dual credit.

7. Is there value for students in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) sequence that does not lead to workforce entry (industry certification, apprenticeship, etc.) or post-secondary education (dual credit, program of study, etc.)?

The State Board of Education heard from many stakeholders who advocated for flexibility in defining CTE course sequences. Students may wish to take CTE courses in multiple program areas relevant to the student’s education and career goals, for example, taking a course in business and a course in agriculture if the student was interested in starting a landscaping business. The Board also heard from educators who felt that exploration and discovering what a student is not interested in valuable and useful for a student’s High School and Beyond Plan. 

The Board also heard from educators who strongly felt that the most valuable CTE pathway for students is to complete a CTE program within a single program area. This pathway also aligns with federal Perkins accountability measures. 

After much deliberation, the Board opted on the side of allowing greater flexibility for students in meeting the CTE pathway option and for districts in offering CTE pathway options.

8. Is there any talk of increasing funds for more Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers? There are not as many CTE programs in the state as there used to be, particularly in small and medium-sized districts.

The Board is concerned about providing equitable access to all graduation pathway options, and about building the capacity to provide for all students. The Board has been charged in E2SHB 1599 with studying graduation pathway options and barriers districts have in offering pathway options. The Board will be seeking feedback from districts and other stakeholders and making recommendations to the Legislature by December 2022. 

The Governor and the Legislature have shown support for connecting young people to high-wage, high-demand careers in Washington through Career Connect Washington. Support for expanding Career and Technical Education may result from this initiative.

9. Graduation pathway options are supposed to align with a student’s High School and Beyond Plan. What plan is tied to pathway meeting or exceeding the graduation score on the Smarter Balanced Assessment?

The Smarter Balanced Assessment was designed to allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the English Language Arts and Mathematics learning standards. The assessment was designed to indicate both college and career readiness--so results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be helpful to every student in knowing if they are on-track for their post-secondary goals, whatever those might be. 

Since all students take the Smarter Balanced Assessment as tenth graders, many students are likely to meet the graduation pathway option graduation requirement through this option.

10. Do students have to sit for Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) prior to having those options? And if it is communicated to parents/students that they are not required to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) prior to accessing other options, won’t there be students who choose to not take the tests in their 10th grade year?

No, students do not need to take the SBA prior to choosing and starting a graduation pathway option. While most of the new graduation pathway options are former alternative assessments, graduation pathway options are different. Students do not need to earn a score below the graduation score on the SBA before attempting a different graduation pathway option. However, students take the SBA in tenth grade, which should provide ample time during the rest of their high school tenure to pursue whichever pathway best aligns with their High School and Beyond Plan. SBE anticipates that many students will meet the criteria for more than one pathway.

The State Board strongly believes in the importance of the SBA for both system accountability (to ensure our state is serving all student groups equitably) as well as for individual students. A student’s SBA scores help them know if they are on-track for the next steps after high school, as articulated in their High School and Beyond Plan, and also enables teachers to appropriately differentiate instruction to address student English Language Arts and math gaps. 

Interested in the entire 39-question document? You can download it below.