Education “Pathways”: Where, exactly, do they lead?

Education “Pathways”: Where, exactly, do they lead?

By Joy Gjersvold, CLW Programs Director

Do you know that the State Board of Education in Washington state thinks that performance-based pathways or competency-based education, also known as Mastery Based Learning (MBE), is a good option for YOUR child?

No matter what they call it, do you know that performance-/competency-based learning has NOTHING to do with academic excellence? Do you know that MBE was one of the last steps in states like Oregon before they just did away with graduation standards altogether?

‼️PRO TIP:  When a piece of legislation or a policy in education includes the word “pathway,” that’s a dead giveaway in WA state that this is tied to the legislation that allows for pathways for graduation.  “Pathways” lead to waivers–also part of the pathways law. Pathways and waivers are options other than graduation requirements used to ensure that a child graduates from high school. It’s WA state law, folks. It started as HB 1308. The Washington State School Board Association (WSSDA) also has a model policy and procedure 2415.

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For the best real life experience of how pathways and waivers cheat our children out of a quality academic education, attend your local school board meetings starting in March. You will hear the first report on the number of students not on par to graduate. By the May meeting, magically, all of those students are graduating. Why does this matter? According to the State Board of Education’s own guidance, the pathway process should take at least a semester to complete. Additionally, based on OSPI’s own Report to the Legislature, Update: Graduation Pathways Class of 2023, the data clearly shows that neither pathways nor waivers are improving the academic success of our children. The number of students completing pathways is abysmal. The data is a convoluted helping of word salad with little to no actual information, designed as a distraction to confuse voters.

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❓Did these students meet academic standards or just complete a pathway or receive a waiver?

❓Can these students read at grade level or are they now among the growing number of functionally illiterate high school graduates?

❓Have you read SB 6264 dropped by Democrats during the 2024 session?

What do graduation pathways do and why is it important for you to know about them?

Graduation pathways and waivers are not rooted in academic excellence. They are an easy button tool to help schools inflate their graduation numbers while academic scores continue to show that students are failing in core subjects like ELA, Math, and Science. It is no surprise, then, that the OSPI report for the legislature also shows that even with pathways and waivers, our children are still failing.

Pathways are evaluated with a rubric and the evaluation is completely subjective, not academic.

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Pathways are completed through projects, community service, creative writing, or world problems–not focused on measuring whether your child can, for example, read at grade level. They are meant to validate, not measure academic performance.

Pathways chip away at the precious gift of childhood. At a recent workshop offered by the State Board of Education, they pointed out an important change to the program. Instead of pressuring your child to jump start his or her high school and beyond plan in 8th grade, parents can now expect their students to be given their “career interest and skills inventory” in 7th grade, and the state really thinks that needs to be bumped back to 6th grade. 11 and 12 year olds don’t need to know what they want to do when they grow up and plan accordingly. They need to be learning to read, to write, to do math and science–dreaming big and discovering through academic learning what their passions are so that one day, after they graduate from high school, they can pursue their passion.

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It’s our job as conservative voters and activists to make sure that we protect that right of passage.

Conservative Ladies of Washington

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