A bill intended to expand opportunities for high school seniors to earn credits toward a postsecondary degree or certificate was signed Friday by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
E2SHB 1808, officially known as the Launch Year Act, sets a goal for the state’s public high schools to offer sufficient courses to allow a student to earn the equivalent of a year’s worth of postsecondary credit while still in high school. The dual-credit courses could be applicable toward a certificate, apprentice program, technical degree, or associate or baccalaureate degree programs.
Many high school students already take dual-credit courses through programs such as Running Start, College in High School, Tech Prep, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, nearly 11 percent of high school courses during the 2009-10 school year offered dual credit – but whether a student could actually receive a year’s worth of postsecondary credit for completing them would depend the postsecondary program he or she entered.
The bill signed by the Governor requires higher education institutions to collaboratively develop master lists of postsecondary courses that can be fulfilled through qualifying scores or proficiency exams on dual-credit courses, or by meeting demonstrated competencies.
The legislation notes that some high school students may be discouraged from putting in extra effort on dual-credit courses during their senior year if they can’t be sure their work will help them achieve postsecondary dreams.
In comments on the House floor March 2, Rep. Kristine Lytton of Anacortes, the bill’s prime sponsor, said about 35 percent of high school seniors do not carry a full academic load during their senior years. “The bill encourages our high schools to offer more rigorous and relevant courses, and students to maximize their opportunity to have a productive senior year and earn postsecondary credits for their hard work,” Lytton said.