Aug 8, 2022 - News

Students to earn school credit for paid work in Washington state

Illustration of a handwriting alphabet above the chalkboard spells out "Hiring."
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Students in Washington state should soon find it easier to earn high school credit for their after-school jobs.

Why it matters: State superintendent Chris Reykdal says roughly one-third of high school juniors and seniors work, but that the on-the-job skills they learn aren't properly recognized.

Driving the news: On Thursday, Reykdal announced a plan that will let those high school students earn up to four academic credits for work they perform outside of school.

  • A student could earn credit working in any sector, including retail or food service, he said.

What they're saying: Reykdal said students gain valuable skills from holding down a job, including financial management, punctuality and "being responsible."

  • "A growing number of them tell us they want credit when they know something, even if it doesn't come in the form of sitting in a classroom for 180 hours," Reykdal said at a press conference.
  • For students who want or need to work, awarding academic credit could make it easier for them to balance a job and school, he said.

Details: Credit for a paid job can't replace core academic credits students must earn in subjects like math, science and English. But it could replace any of the four required elective credits.

  • Under Reykdal's plan, students could earn one elective credit for every 360 hours of work.
  • "We're not talking about a little babysitting over here," state Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), chair of the state Senate's education committee, told Axios. "We're talking about a significant number of hours," added Wellman, who supports Reykdal's plan.
  • Schools would have to verify a students' employment and track hours worked.

What's next: The plan won’t take effect immediately.

  • Reykdal's agency needs to go through a rule-making process to finalize specifics.
  • For that reason, the updated work-for-credit system isn't expected to be in place until fall 2023.
  • Public hearings will be held on the plan between now and then.
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