High School Seniors Must Pass New Math Test To Graduate - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

High School Seniors Must Pass New Math Test To Graduate

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- High school seniors are just a few months from graduation, but a new math test requirement in Washington could hold some of them back another year if they don't pass.

At Kennewick High School, teachers and students are working hard to help kids pass this new math test.

This is the first year students will be required by the state to pass a math test to graduate and the district is doing everything they can to make sure each student gets their diploma.

High school seniors in Washington will not wear a cap and gown this June if they don't know much about geometry.

The class of 2013 is the first required to pass a math test in geometry or algebra to earn their diploma.

Since 2008, students have had to pass reading and writing tests, but now math is on their desk too.

"It has raised the level of math in all high schools across the state. No doubt about it," said Pam Kangas, Kennewick High School math teacher.

"The tests have narrowed their focus as far as what we're asking students to know and do and I think that it's a fair graduation requirement that they do be able to show that they're competent in some math skills along with the reading and writing skills that are already in place," said Bev Henderson, Kennewick School District Assessment Coordinator.

But Kangas said thousands of students across the state are failing, with only 50-60% passing.

The added pressure to pass led to a new class called, Collection of Evidence, that gives students who don't pass a chance to submit math work instead.

"I know how difficult it was and I sometimes think there's better ways to measure that than with a one and done test. That that's the only thing that really says they're ready for graduation. I think there's better measures than a single test," Kangas said.

Kennewick High School is seeing success with the class and most of their students are passing.

In two years, a national test will also be required to graduate.

"This new national test that's coming, we'll all be compared equally. I think Washington students will shine because of all of the rigor that we already have within our state," Henderson said.

Current high school sophomores, will have to pass five tests to graduate including reading, writing, algebra, geometry and biology.

Each test will be taken at the end of the course, like a final exam.