- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - The House Education Committee approved a proposal Thursday to eliminate the need to pass statewide tests to earn a high school diploma.

House Bill 1785 now moves on to the full House for consideration.

The proposal would keep the high school tests in place, but passing those tests would not be a graduation requirement. Instead, students who fail to pass high school exams in eleventh grade would be required to take another class in the subject area during their last year of high school.

Since the graduating class of 2008, tests have been a Washington state high school graduation requirement. Current high school students are required to pass reading and writing tests as well as an end-of-course exam in math.

Beginning with the class of 2015, state law adds a biology test. Beginning in 2019, students would be required to pass a new set of exams.

The bill supported by Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn would also eliminate the transition period between the current statewide exams and the adoption of new tests based on the new national education standards known as the Common Core.

In other action, the Senate Higher Education Committee approved a bill that could lead to lowering tuition rates at public colleges and universities. An amendment proposed by Democrats to add a way to pay for the decreases by closing tax breaks was rejected by the Republican members of the committee.

“Democrats and Republicans alike have talked about the importance of tuition reduction, but our real responsibility is to actually identify a way to pay for it,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, in a statement.

The bill would also take away permission from the state’s colleges and universities to set their own tuition.

Senate Bill 5954 now moves on to the Senate Ways & Means Committee for consideration.

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