- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2003

OLYMPIA, Wash, Feb. 17 (UPI) — The certification required to graduate from public schools in Washington state should be focused on the basics of reading, writing and mathematics for the time being, and adding further requirements for social studies and other fields of study should be delayed until 2010, Gov. Gary Locke said Monday.

Legislation to make the "Three R's" the primary requirements for the Certificate of Mastery, which will be needed for graduation starting in 2008, was introduced Monday in order to give school districts additional time to get up to speed on the core curriculum before being asked to expand their focus to fields such as social studies, science, physical education and the arts.

"We need to focus on the basics," Locke said in a statement. "This legislation would establish a meaningful and predictable graduation requirement while still supporting the high expectations that we have set for students in our state."

State law requires all subjects covered by the Washington Assessment of Student Learning be included in the testing that will be used to qualify a student for the Certificate of Mastery starting in 2008. Locke's proposal would limit the requirement to the math, reading and writing components until 2010 when science would be added.

"The central issue here is a need to make the high school diploma meaningful again," said state Rep. Dave Quall, the sponsor of the bill backed by Locke. "That diploma should mean that you are able to read, write and compute at a reasonable level."

Requirements in areas such as the arts, physical education and "listening" would be put off until later years.

Locke said that while there was no argument that all of the current WASL subjects were important, the Certificate of Mastery program would be better served by introducing requirements in stages rather than all at once.

"For the Certificate of Mastery, we need to hold districts and students accountable for the basics so we will be on track five years from now," he said.

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