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Biology test no longer required for high school diploma in Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash.  — High school students will no longer need to pass a biology test in order to graduate under a measure signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The legislation means that high school seniors in the class of 2017 who failed a biology exam but met other diploma requirements would get a diploma anyway, The Daily News reported.

Under the previous law, the class of 2017 was the first class required to pass a biology exam to graduate. About 3,300 high school seniors failed the exam this year, or roughly 4 percent of seniors.

The new legislation is intended to give students more flexibility in meeting graduation requirements.

The Legislature unanimously approved House Bill 2224 on June 30. Inslee signed it Friday.

“Students need and deserve multiple ways to show they know the state learning standards and have those competencies tied to career or college opportunities,” Chris Reykdal, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, said in a statement Friday.

“Student success should not be tied to passing a single test,” he added.

The new law delays until 2021 the requirement that students pass a statewide biology test in order to graduate.

State officials said that federal law requires students to take English language arts, math, and science assessments once in high school. But it doesn’t require students to pass them to graduate.

The legislation also moves the state’s standardized English and math assessments from the 11th grade to the 10th grade. State school officials said this would give students more time to help them meet learning standards.

School districts will be allowed to come up with alternative ways for students to demonstrate proficiency.

Other students in classes 2014 through 2018 who failed assessments in English language arts and mathematics but met other graduation requirements could file an appeal to show they’re proficient in those subjects.