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Originally published Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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Washington Board of Education's new rule adds up to smart change for math

An overdue revision by the Washington state Board of Education means middle-school students taking high-school-level math won't have to repeat the math course in high school.

ONE of the most nonsensical rules in Washington education law required middle-school students taking high-school-level math courses to repeat the course for credit in high school.

This meant that high-achieving students who took Algebra 1 in middle school had to take the course again in high school before they could move on to geometry.

Kudos to the state Board of Education for a minor tweak that will have a big impact. The board's shift means students can choose to start with a different math class in high school and won't have to repeat the middle-school class if they don't want to.

Some students take high-school-level courses in middle school to get a jump start on graduation requirements. Others want to explore a challenging course before their grade would count toward graduation. In both cases, students ought to be able to get credit.

This will become increasingly important because the graduating class of 2013 will need three credits of math to earn a high-school diploma. The boost in graduation requirements is consistent with an increase in academic rigor.

Overlooked was the state rule requiring students who took a high-school-level math class without credit as an eighth-grader to repeat that same course for credit in high school.

Thank goodness for small changes. Students shouldn't be penalized for an interest in math.

A longer-term shift for schools districts will be ensuring that higher-level courses taught in middle schools are academically equivalent to high-school courses.

Among many grading policies, Seattle Public Schools is currently reviewing its middle-school policy with an eye on high-school equivalent courses.

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