An overdue revision by the Washington state Board of Education means middle-school students taking high-school-level math won't have to repeat the math course in high school.

ONE of the most nonsensical rules in Washington education law required middle-school students taking high-school-level math courses to repeat the course for credit in high school.

This meant that high-achieving students who took Algebra 1 in middle school had to take the course again in high school before they could move on to geometry.

Kudos to the state Board of Education for a minor tweak that will have a big impact. The board’s shift means students can choose to start with a different math class in high school and won’t have to repeat the middle-school class if they don’t want to.

Some students take high-school-level courses in middle school to get a jump start on graduation requirements. Others want to explore a challenging course before their grade would count toward graduation. In both cases, students ought to be able to get credit.

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This will become increasingly important because the graduating class of 2013 will need three credits of math to earn a high-school diploma. The boost in graduation requirements is consistent with an increase in academic rigor.

Overlooked was the state rule requiring students who took a high-school-level math class without credit as an eighth-grader to repeat that same course for credit in high school.

Thank goodness for small changes. Students shouldn’t be penalized for an interest in math.

A longer-term shift for schools districts will be ensuring that higher-level courses taught in middle schools are academically equivalent to high-school courses.

Among many grading policies, Seattle Public Schools is currently reviewing its middle-school policy with an eye on high-school equivalent courses.