Governor Inslee signs bill increasing access to teacher preparation programs

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April 24, 2019

Governor Inslee signs bill increasing access to teacher preparation programs

inslee hb 1621

On April 24, Governor Inslee signed HB 1621, a bill to help admit more candidates into the teaching profession by removing the requirement of meeting a specific score on the WEST-B (WA Educator Skills Test - Basic) exam. The WEST-B, a basic skills assessment in reading, writing, and mathematics, will still be required for admission to a preparation program, and for teacher certification. Individuals with questions regarding their certification options must contact the OSPI certification office at or (360) 725-6400.

Maria Timmons Flores, a professor of ELL / Bilingual Education at Woodring College of Education, commented that “standardized tests have blocked hundreds of future bilingual teachers and teachers of color from entering the profession. Linguistically and culturally biased, the tests do little to assess the underlying knowledge or broad competencies needed for outstanding teaching.” She believes that passage of HB 1621 “will change lives, opening possibilities for future teachers of color and offering Washington state’s students more educators who come from their communities and who speak their languages.”

This legislative session proved our state is committed to addressing disparities in teacher testing requirements. Washington cannot afford to lose potential educators who bring a range of diverse strengths and skills to the classroom, but are unable to enter a preparation program because passing the basic skills test became an inequitable barrier. This assessment can now be used as one of multiple measures that gauge a candidate’s skills upon program entry, allowing for other more equitable variables to be considered.

“The WEST-B especially impacted underrepresented candidates. This change in the law will not weaken the academic readiness of pre-service teachers, but instead gives programs the ability to make informed decisions on candidate support and progression,” said Ron Jacobson, a PESB board member and executive director of the CWU School of Education. “We have just removed a significant barrier that has limited our effectiveness in diversifying the teaching workforce, and has kept quality candidates from a profession in which they will thrive. This is a welcomed and equitable change.”

Background information

The testing barriers work group was formed in 2018 to investigate testing barriers experienced by candidates of color and bilingual candidates, and develop recommendations for consideration by PESB and the Washington State Legislature.

In their recommendations, the work group called for the need to move away from using standardized tests as a single predictor of knowledge and skills. The work group also considered research that points to standardized testing’s inherent cultural and linguistic bias. The recommendations call for a system that values all the skills that contribute to what makes a great teacher – including community knowledge, cultural responsiveness, social emotional skills, and ability to develop relationships with students and families. Learn more about the recommendations on our website.


  • For program admission questions, please contact the preparation program directly.
  • For questions regarding your individual certificate, please contact the OSPI certification office at or (360) 725-6400. 
  • For questions regarding this legislative change, please contact us at or visit our website