ANSWER: Washington State does not have a state wide grade retention policy, but your local school district may have a grade retention policy.
In 2013, the legislature passed a 3rd grade reading bill which was designed to make sure that when students leave 3rd grade their reading skills would be at a basic level or higher on the state assessment (level 2 or higher). Students entering 4th grade experience a shift from “learning to read” TO “reading to learn”. This bill put in place requirements that spring conferences must occur to determine appropriate reading interventions for the students who score a level 1 to prepare each student for success in 4th grade so they are efficient at “reading to learn”. The conferences were to happen after state testing, but before school is out and must include the parent/guardian, the teacher and principal. At the conference, they were to discuss reading intervention options for the student and grade placement for the following year based on the school district’s grade placement policy.
The legislature, just last week, passed a new 3rd grade reading bill that will be signed by the Governor on Saturday, April 25th and goes into effect immediately. The bill changes the above process slightly. They still require notification and contact with the parent/guardian to discuss the options available: reading intervention options, grade retention, etc. If the parent/guardian does not participate in the process, the school can make a decision to retain the student in 3rd grade the following school year. However, the last line of the bill report reads: If the principal and parent cannot agree on the appropriate grade placement and improvement strategies then the parent's request will be honored.
For more information, the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) shared with the WSPTA the School and Home: Grade Retention & Promotion Information for Parents brochure, prepared by the National Association of School Psychologists.