I am asked on a regular basis by families relocating to Washington State to explain required testing for our public schools to meet the State Common Core standards and also graduation requirements. Part of my service includes putting together informational documents for my clients comparing their current testing schedule with the requirements for Washington State.
With the recent demise of the No Child Left Behind Law and its replacement with the Every Student Succeed Act (signed into Federal law by President Obama in December 2015), it is not only confusing for current families to understand the requirements, but nearly impossible for families new to the U.S. education system.
Standardized testing is a topic that divides teachers, administrators, government agencies and families and one that is hard for me to keep my opinion to myself. Lucky for me, ParentMap Magazine just published an excellent article about Washington State standardized testing rules.
From all my time visiting schools and speaking with parents, I know that many students in the lower elementary school grades opted out of testing last year. It is only in the extreme cases like with Nathan Hale and Garfield High School that the numbers are released. It is hard to get a clear picture of families opting out in the elementary years, as the students still attend school to avoid being marked absent, but spend the time in the library or a supervised study period.
For families moving from within the United States public school system, the amount of testing in Washington State does not differ dramatically from other States. For families coming to the area from outside of the United States, it can be quite perplexing as it differs dramatically from the graduation and leveling testing requirements in countries such as Britain, Singapore, China, Germany and Australia.
I'll do my best to answer your specific questions about testing and graduation requirements - whether you are joining the U.S. school system for a few years and returning to your home country to complete your child's education or if you are planning to have your children graduate from an U.S. high school and apply for university.