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Washington is one of 12 states where too few students are taking required statewide exams, meaning it could face sanctions next year if schools do not increase testing, federal education officials said.
The participation rate was about 91 percent in Washington state after many high school juniors refused to take the exams.
The letter said Washington could face sanctions, including the possible loss of federal dollars, if schools don’t improve that rate.
In a response sent Dec. 2, Washington state’s education office wrote that schools and districts with lower-than-required participation will have to come up with a plan to do better next spring.
“The plan must address the causes of the low participation rate and the actions the district and/or schools will take,” Assistant Superintendent Gayle Pauley wrote.
Washington schools had no problem meeting the required participation rate in grades three through eight. Rates were also high for sophomores, who have to pass the state English language-arts test to graduate from high school.
The numbers were much lower for juniors, who weren’t required to take the tests for graduation. About 30 percent of juniors across the state were confirmed refusals for both the English/language arts and math tests, according to state test data.
Seattle Public Schools was one of the districts with a high refusal rate. About 43 percent of juniors opted out of the English-language arts test, and 44 percent opted out of the math test.
Preliminary data showed more than three-quarters of juniors in the Bainbridge Island, Issaquah, Enumclaw and Snoqualmie Valley school districts refused to take the tests.
Other states that received federal warning letters were California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, according to Education Week magazine.
The federal government recently passed a new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, but it does not affect the 95 percent testing participation requirement.