Washington high school juniors and seniors could get credit for jobs under new plan

Jim Allen / The Critic-Review

A year from now, high school and college students in Washington will be able to earn elective credit for their extracurricular jobs under a plan unveiled this week by Chris Reykdal, the state’s superintendent of public instruction.

The goal, Reykdal said Thursday, is to give students extra reward for what they learn on the job.

“Through work experience, students learn employability and leadership skills – skills such as interpersonal communication, personal finance, time management, taking direction, receiving critical feedback, and fulfillment of commitments – which support their long-term success in the workplace and in life,” said Reykdal.

The plan will take effect in the fall of 2023. It would allow students to earn up to four elective credits during their junior and senior years.

The credits would apply to all areas of work, Reykdal said.

“It’s not that we’re going to allow some employers to do this and not others; it’s to honor all work: manufacturing, retail, food service,” Reykdal said.

To graduate from high school in Washington, students must complete 17 credits in core subjects aligned with college entrance requirements, complete a graduation path, meet custom path requirements, and earn four credits in elective subjects.

Under Reykdal’s plan, students could earn credits at the rate of 1 elective credit for 360 hours worked, or 0.5 elective credit for 180 hours worked. Students will be allowed to earn up to four elective credits through work experience, and no more than two of these credits may be earned in one year.

Reykdal said OSPI will work out more details in the next 30 to 45 days, with the goal of rolling out the program next fall. He said the public will have a chance to vote on the plan until late fall and winter this year.

Reykdal hopes the plan will give students more flexibility; for example, they could adapt their daily class schedule to their working hours.

According to OSPI, about one-third of current high school and senior students in the state are employed.

The news was welcomed by some members of the business community.

“Helping to equip the next generation to succeed in the workforce is critically important to the health of our families, our communities and our economy,” said Dave Mastin, vice president of government affairs at the Association of Washington Business.

“Giving students the opportunity to earn elective credit for their extracurricular and summer jobs validates the important role work plays in their growth and development, and will hopefully encourage more young people to start learning. the important life skills that are learned through work experience,” Mastin said.

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