Social Studies Laws, Graduation Requirements, and Civic Observances
Relevant Washington Administrative Code (WAC) and Revised Code of Washington (RCW) for social studies.
- Waiver of course of study in Washington's history and government
Students in the 12th grade who have not completed a course of study in Washington's history and state government because of previous residence outside the state may have the requirement of RCW 28A.230.090 waived by their principal.
- Washington State History and Government Requirements
Grades 1-6. A one-semester course -- i.e., 90 (50 minute) hours of instruction -- or its equivalent in Washington state history and government shall be required in the common schools in grades one through six combined, but not at each grade level.
Grades 7-12. A one-semester course -- i.e., 90 (50 minute) hours of instruction -- or its equivalent in Washington state history and government shall be required in the common schools in grades seven through twelve combined, but not at each grade level. Such course shall include a study of the Washington state Constitution and is encouraged to include information on the culture, history, and government of the American Indian people who were the first inhabitants of the state.
- Essential academic learning requirements and assessments-Verification reports
By the end of the 2008-09 school year, school districts shall have in place in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools assessments or other strategies chosen by the district to assure that students have an opportunity to learn the essential academic learning requirements in Social Studies, the arts, and health and fitness. Social studies includes history, geography, civics, economics, and Social Studies skills. Beginning with the 2008-09 school year, school districts shall annually submit an implementation verification report to the office of the superintendent of public instruction. The office of the superintendent of public instruction may not require school districts to use a classroom-based assessment in Social Studies, the arts, and health and fitness to meet the requirements of this section and shall clearly communicate to districts their option to use other strategies chosen by the district.
Beginning with the 2008-09 school year, school districts shall require students in the seventh or eighth grade, and the eleventh or twelfth grade to each complete at least one classroom-based assessment in civics. Beginning with the 2010-11 school year, school districts shall require students in the fourth or fifth grade to complete at least one classroom-based assessment in civics. The civics assessment may be selected from a list of classroom-based assessments approved by the office of the superintendent of public instruction. Beginning with the 2008-09 school year, school districts shall annually submit implementation verification reports to the office of the superintendent of public instruction documenting the use of the classroom-based assessments in civics.
Verification reports shall require school districts to report only the information necessary to comply with this section.
- United States flag - Procurement, display, and exercises-National anthem
The board of directors of every school district shall cause a United States flag being in good condition to be displayed during school hours upon or near every public school plant, except during inclement weather. They shall cause appropriate flag exercises to be held in each classroom at the beginning of the school day, and in every school at the opening of all school assemblies, at which exercises those pupils so desiring shall recite the following salute to the flag: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". Students not reciting the pledge shall maintain a respectful silence. The salute to the flag or the national anthem shall be rendered immediately preceding interschool events when feasible.
- Temperance and Good Citizenship Day-Aids in Programming
On January 16 of each year or the preceding Friday when January 16 falls on a non-school day, there shall be observed within each public school "Temperance and Good Citizenship Day". Annually the state superintendent of public instruction shall duly prepare and publish for circulation among the teachers of the state program for use on such day embodying topics pertinent thereto and may from year to year designate particular laws for special observances.
- Educational activities in observance of Veterans' Day
During the school week preceding the 11th day of November of each year, there shall be presented in each common school as defined in RCW 28A.150.020 educational activities suitable to the observance of Veteran's Day. The responsibility for the preparation and presentation of the activities approximating at least 60 minutes total throughout the week shall be with the principal or head teacher of each school building and such program shall embrace topics tending to instill a loyalty and devotion to the institutions and laws of this state and nation. The superintendent of public instruction and each educational service district superintendent, by advice and suggestion, shall aid in the preparation of these activities if such aid be solicited.
- Study of constitutions compulsory-Rules to implement
The study of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Washington shall be a condition prerequisite to graduation from the public and private high schools of this state. The state board of education acting upon the advice of the superintendent of public instruction shall provide by rule or regulation for the implementation of this section.
- Civil Rights Education
School districts are encouraged to prepare and conduct a program at least once a year to commemorate the history of civil rights in our nation, including providing an opportunity for students to learn about the personalities and convictions of heroes of the civil rights movement and the importance of the fundamental principle and promise of equality under our nation's Constitution.
- Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Program-Created-Purpose
The purpose of all Washington Civil Liberties Public Education Program (WCLPEP) projects is to educate the public about the World War II mass incarceration of individuals of Japanese descent, related knowledge concerning democratic institutions and processes, the fragile nature of our constitutional rights.
- Student Court Programs
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) shall encourage school districts to implement, expand, or use student court programs for students who commit violations of school rules and policies. Program operations of student courts may be funded by government and private grants.
Student court programs are limited to those that: Are developed using the guidelines for creating and operating student court programs developed by nationally recognized student court projects; Target violations of school rules by students enrolled in public or private school; and Emphasize the following principles: (a) Youth must be held accountable for their problem behavior; (b) Youth must be educated about the impact their actions have on themselves and others including the school, school personnel, their classmates, their families, and their community; (c) Youth must develop skills to resolve problems with their peers more effectively; and (d) Youth should be provided a meaningful forum to practice and enhance newly developed skills.
All public high school students are required to meet statewide graduation requirements in order to earn a diploma. In Social Studies, students are required to earn 3.0 credits (per WAC 180-51-067: Section 4, a-d).
In accordance with the State Board of Education amended graduation requirements (WAC 180-51-067), the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction reviewed and revised the K-12 Social Studies Learning Standards, aligning them with the amended requirements, including the 0.5 civics credit required for graduation.
For more information about the changes, please view the State Board of Education website.
Constitution & Citizenship Day
Observed annually on September 17
The law requires the study of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Washington state as a prerequisite for graduation from public and private high schools in Washington state.
Additionally, federal law enacted in December 2004 states: "Each educational institution that receives federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution..." to commemorate the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. The federal law is included in Section 111 of Public Law 108-447 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005. The U.S. Department of Education provides additional information about the law.
Disability History Month
Observed the month of October
Requires that all Washington public schools conduct or promote educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of disability history and people with disabilities. The activities may include, but not be limited to, school assemblies or guest speaker presentations.
Observed annually on November 11
The law requires that all Washington public schools observe Veterans' Day by providing educational activities during the school week preceding the eleventh day of November of each year. The responsibility for the preparation and presentation of the activities will be with the principal or head teacher of each school building. The law dictates that activities be at least sixty minutes total throughout the week and will embrace topics tending to instill a loyalty and devotion to the institutions and laws of this state and nation.
Temperance & Good Citizenship Day
Observed annually on January 16, or the preceding Friday if January 16 falls on a non-school day
The law states that on January 16 of each year (or the preceding Friday when January 16 falls on a non-school day) each public school will observe Temperance and Good Citizenship Day.
The original language of the 1923 Washington state law included specific language regarding education of the effects of alcohol and drug use. However this language was removed when the law was revised in 1969. While many interpret "temperance" to mean prohibition, as defined above, instruction on "temperance" may include information about prohibition, but it is not a specific requirement of the law. The 2013 Legislature added the expectation that on Temperance and Good Citizenship Day public schools provide opportunities for eligible students to register to vote.
Many school districts recognize this day by discussing temperance in connection with good citizenship, specifically addressing self-restraint. This idea of self-restraint is closely tied with many of the activities associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For example, a district may choose to discuss the accomplishments of peaceful, non-violent protests in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. With the 2013 addition, schools are asked to provide eligible students with the opportunity to register to vote.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Observed annually on the third Monday in January
No legislative mandate
In January 2004, the Washington State House of Representatives passed House Resolution 4676 to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, honoring the importance of the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The resolution calls on the people of the state of Washington to study, reflect on, and celebrate Dr. King's life and ideals in order to fulfill his dream of civil and human rights for all people and urges "all the citizens of our state to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a day of service-a day on, not a day off." There is no state law or specific regulation that requires school districts to observe this day in any particular way.