Enabling more students to graduate on time

Rep. Drew MacEwen is deeply concerned about statewide tests being linked to high school graduation. Based on the overwhelming number of emails he received on the issue from students and parents during the 2017 legislative session, he’s not alone.

MacEwen says federally designed tests for biology, English and math were never intended to be linked to graduation. Instead of helping students, he says they have been more of a hindrance.

In January 2017, MacEwen introduced House Bill 1046 to delink state tests from graduation once and for all. When the bill passed 92-6, MacEwen said the vote “sent a strong statement that we believe our job is to help create lifelong learners, not lifelong test-takers.”

Despite the overwhelming support for the bill in the House, it stalled in the Senate for months. It was clear to MacEwen a compromise would need to be reached between education leaders in both chambers. After months of negotiations, a new bill sponsored by the 35th District lawmaker finally moved forward.

While House Bill 2224 does not delink state tests from high school graduation, it does make several changes to current law in order to enable more students to graduate on time. Under the bill, math and English language arts assessments will be moved up from 11th to 10th grade beginning in 2019. Additionally, meeting standard on the state’s biology assessment will be delayed as a graduation requirement until the class of 2021. That change also applied retroactively to the class of 2017, meaning hundreds of students that were at risk of not graduating were able to attend their graduation ceremonies and receive their diplomas.

MacEwen says that while he would have preferred House Bill 1046 to be signed into law, he believes House Bill 2224 is an acceptable compromise for now.

In a statement following the signing ceremony for the bill, MacEwen said, “While I strongly believe delinking state tests from high school graduation requirements is the right policy for our state, House Bill 2224 represents a fair compromise that will move us forward and help students who are graduating this year and in the years to come.”

House Bill 2224 went into effect July 7, 2017.