Washington Law Review


Washington's Academic Achievement and Accountability Statute (AAA Statute) creates a statewide system of school accountability. It also requires that all students pass the tenth-grade level of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning standardized test (WASL) to receive a diploma. Unfortunately, when this graduation requirement takes effect in 2008, many students will not receive diplomas because they will be unable to pass the WASL before graduation. Some of these students will have met all local graduation requirements, so the only graduation requirement they will not be able to meet will be the statewide requirement that they pass the WASL. Their WASL failure will show that their school districts failed to educate them to statewide standards either by inadequately instructing them or by allowing them to pass local assessments even though they lacked essential skills. This Comment explores the viability of educational malpractice claims against school districts for compensatory damages for remedial education when students are denied diplomas based only on failing WASL scores. Such claims, based on the AAA Statute, should succeed under the Washington Supreme Court's most recent test for determining the existence of an implied private statutory cause of action. These claims should also overcome other legal and policy barriers that have led Washington and other state courts to reject educational malpractice causes of action.

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