FAQ - Graduation Requirements
Graduation FAQ

 

Graduation Requirements Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: October 2014

  1. What is the role of the State Board of Education (SBE) in graduation requirements? What other governing bodies are responsible for setting graduation requirements?
  2. How do you determine which graduation requirements are in effect for a student?
  3. How is a credit defined for graduation?
  4. What are the state-mandated graduation credit requirements for the Class of 2012 (students who entered 9th grade in 2008)?
  5. What are the state-mandated graduation credit requirements for the classes of 2013-2015 (students who entered 9th grade in 2009-2011)?
  6. What are the state-mandated graduation credit requirements for the classes of 2016-2018 (students who entered the 9th grade in 2012 to 2014)?
  7. What are the state-mandated graduation credit requirements for the Class of 2019 and beyond (students who entered 9th grade in 2015 and after)?
  8. What are the state-mandated noncredit-bearing graduation requirements for the classes of 2012-2016?
  9. Is a Culminating Project required for graduation?
  10. How are students receiving special education affected by graduation requirements?
  11. Where can I find the graduation requirements of each district?
  12. Where can I find a printable copy of the SBE-approved Washington State Career and College Ready Graduation Requirements?

1.  What is the role of the State Board of Education (SBE) in graduation requirements? What other governing bodies are responsible for setting graduation requirements?

RCW 28A.230.090 authorizes SBE to establish state graduation requirements. SBE has established minimum credit requirements, and the High School and Beyond Plan (WAC 180-51-061, WAC 180-51-066, WAC 180-51-067, and WAC 180-51-068).

The Legislature has established the current state assessment system, which includes high school assessments that students must pass to graduate. SBE identifies the scores students must achieve to meet standard on statewide assessments (RCW 28A.305.130). Students who meet standards on high school assessments required for graduation earn a certificate of academic achievement or a certificate of individual achievement.

Districts and tribal schools may add local requirements to the state requirements. Private schools must offer a curriculum in sufficient units to meet state graduation requirements, but private school students do not need to complete a High School and Beyond Plan or take or meet standard on state assessments (RCW 28A.195).

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2.  How do you determine which graduation requirements are in effect for a student?

For credit requirements and most non-credit graduation requirements, students are assigned an expected graduation year at the time they enter ninth grade (WAC 180-51-035). They are held to the graduation requirements of that graduation year regardless of the year they actually complete high school. For example, a student who enters 9th grade in 2012 would be assigned a graduation year of 2016 and would be expected to meet requirements for the graduating class of 2016. If the student graduates early—in 2015 instead of 2016—she or he still needs to meet the requirements for the class of 2016.

This also applies if a student stays in high school longer than four year. A student who entered 9th grade in 2014 would be assigned a graduation year of 2018. If the student does not actually graduate until 2019, she or he will still be held to the graduation requirements of 2018.

The expected graduation year criteria does not apply to the graduation requirement of the Culminating Project. The Culminating Project is eliminated as a graduation requirement as of 2015 for any student regardless of which year they entered 9th grade.

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3.  How is a credit defined for graduation?

SBE adopted a new definition of a credit in November 2011. WAC 180-51-050 provides:

(1) Grades nine through twelve or the equivalent of a four-year high school program, or as otherwise provided in RCW 28A.230.090 (4):

(a) Successful completion, as defined by written district policy, of courses taught to the state’s essential academic learning requirements (learning standards). If there are no state-adopted learning standards for a subject, the local governing board, or its designee, shall determine learning standards for the successful completion of that subject; or (b) Satisfactory demonstration by a student of proficiency/competency, as defined by written district policy, of the state’s essential academic learning requirements (learning standards).

Credits can be awarded only for work that is at an academic level of 9th grade (or higher). More information on the state’s academic standards and grade level expectations is available on the OSPI website.

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4.  What are the state-mandated graduation credit requirements for the Class of 2012 (students who entered 9th grade in 2008)?

SBE has established 19 state-mandated graduation credit requirements for students in the Class of 2012. WAC 180-51-061 specifies the distribution of credits required for this class.

Subject Credits
English 3.0
Math 2.0
Science (at least 1 lab credit) 2.0
Social Studies 2.5
Health & Fitness 2.0
Occupational Education 1.0
Arts (visual or performing) 1.0
Electives 5.5
Total 19

English—3 credits aligned with grade level expectations for 9th and 10th grade (or higher) in reading, writing and communications, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the English Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s English Language Arts website for more information.

Mathematics—2 credits aligned with grade level expectations for 9th and 10th grade (or higher), and may include additional content determined by the district. See the Math Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Mathematics website for more information.

Science—2 credits aligned with grade level expectations for 9th and 10th grade (or higher) in physical, life, and earth science, and may include additional content determined by the district. At least 1 credit in laboratory science as defined locally. See the Science Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Science website for more information.

Social studies—2.5 credits, that align with state standards in civics, economic, geography, history and social studies skills, and may include additional content determined by the district. Mandatory courses, or the equivalent, include 1 credit in US History and Government, 1 credit in Contemporary World History, Geography and Problems, and .5 credits in Washington State History and Government (if taught at a high school level.) The Washington State History and Government graduation requirement may be fulfilled in the 7th or 8th grade, and the student may take .5 credits of an additional district-approved social studies course to meet the 2.5 credits total required in social studies. See the Social Studies Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Social Studies website for more information.

Health and fitness—2 credits, that align with state standards, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the Health and Fitness Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Health and Fitness website for more information.

Occupational education—1 credit that aligns with the definition of an exploratory course in OSPI’s Career and Technical Education program standards. See the Career and Technical Education/Occupational Education Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Career and Technical Education website for more information.

Arts—1 credit, that aligns with state standards in visual or performing arts, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the Arts Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Arts webpage for more information.

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5.  What are the state-mandated graduation credit requirements for the classes of 2013-2015 (students who entered 9th grade in 2009-2011)?

SBE has established 20 state-mandated credits for the classes of 2013-2015. WAC 180-51-066 specifies the distribution of credits required for these classes.

Subject Credits
English 3.0
Math 3.0
Science (at least 1 lab credit) 2.0
Social Studies 2.5
Health & Fitness 2.0
Occupational Education 1.0
Arts (visual or performing) 1.0
Electives 5.5
Total 20

English—3 credits aligned with grade level expectations for 9th and 10th grade (or higher) in reading, writing and communications, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the English Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s English Language Arts website for more information.

Mathematics—3 credits aligned with high school mathematics standards and include algebra I or integrated math 1, geometry or integrated math 2, and algebra II or integrated math 3, and may include additional content determined by the district. Students may take a different third credit of math under circumstances defined in WAC 180-51-066. See the Math Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Mathematics website for more information.

Science—2 credits aligned with grade level expectations for 9th and 10th grade (or higher) in physical, life, and earth science, and may include additional content determined by the district. At least 1 credit in laboratory science as defined locally. See the Science Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Science website for more information.

Social studies—2.5 credits, that align with state standards in civics, economic, geography, history and social studies skills, and may include additional content determined by the district. Mandatory courses, or the equivalent, include 1 credit in US History and Government, 1 credit in Contemporary World History, Geography and Problems, and .5 credits in Washington State History and Government (if taught at a high school level.) The Washington State History and Government graduation requirement may be fulfilled in the 7th or 8th grade, and the student may take .5 credits of an additional district-approved social studies course to meet the 2.5 credits total required in social studies. See the Social Studies Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Social Studies website for more information.

Health and fitness—2 credits, that align with state standards, plus content determined by the district. See the Health and Fitness Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Health and Fitness website for more information.

Occupational Education—1 credit that aligns with the definition of an exploratory course in OSPI’s Career and Technical Education program standards. See the Career and Technical Education/Occupational Education Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Career and Technical Education website for more information.

Arts—1 credit, that aligns with state standards in visual or performing arts, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the Arts Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Arts webpage for more information.

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6.  What are the state-mandated graduation credit requirements for the classes of 2016-2018 (students who entered the 9th grade in 2012 to 2014)?

SBE has established 20 state-mandated credits for the classes of 2016-2018. WAC 180-51-067 specifies the distribution of credits required for these classes. These requirements are in effect unless a district passed a local board resolution in 2012 and notified the State Board of Education that the district is delaying implementation of the new English and Social Studies requirements until the Class of 2018.

Subject Credits
English 4.0
Math 3.0
Science (at least 1 lab credit) 2.0
Social Studies 3.0
Health & Fitness 2.0
Occupational Education 1.0
Arts (visual or performing) 1.0
Electives 4.0
Total 20

English—4 credits aligned with learning standards for English Language Arts, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the English Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s English Language Arts website for more information.

Mathematics—3 credits aligned with high school mathematics standards and include algebra I or integrated math 1, geometry or integrated math 2, and algebra II or integrated math 3, and may include additional content determined by the district. Students may take a different third credit of math under circumstances defined in WAC 180-51-067. See the Math Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Mathematics website for more information.

Science—2 credits aligned with learning standards for science, and may include additional content determined by the district. At least 1 credit in laboratory science as defined locally. See the Science Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Science website for more information.

Social studies—3 credits, that align with state standards in civics, economic, geography, history and social studies skills, and may include additional content determined by the district. Mandatory courses, or the equivalent, include 1 credit in US History and Government, 1 credit of Contemporary World History, Geography and Problems, and .5 credits of civics. In addition, students need to successfully complete Washington State History and Government. Civics may be embedded in another social studies course. In this case, students still need to complete 3 credits of social studies in high school. See the Social Studies Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Social Studies website for more information.

Health and fitness—2 credits, that align with state standards, including 1.5 credits of fitness, and .5 credits in health, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the Health and Fitness Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Health and Fitness website for more information.

Occupational Education—1 credit that aligns with the definition of an exploratory course in OSPI’s Career and Technical Education program standards. See the Career and Technical Education/Occupational Education Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Career and Technical Education website for more information.

Arts—2 credits, that align with state standards in visual or performing arts, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the Arts Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Arts webpage for more information.

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7. What are the state-mandated graduation credit requirements for the Class of 2019 and beyond (students who entered 9th grade in 2015 and after)?

SBE has established 24 state-mandated credits for the Class of 2019 and beyond, as directed by legislation enacted in the 2014 Session (E2SSB 6552). WAC 180-51-068, adopted by the SBE in July 2014, specifies the distribution of credits required for these classes. These requirements are in effect unless a district applies to the SBE for a temporary waiver of the requirements for up to two years. See the FAQ on the Waiver to Implement the 24-credit Graduation Requirements for more information.

Subject Credits
English 4.0
Math 3.0
Science (at least 2 lab
credit)
3.0
Social Studies 3.0
Health & Fitness 2.0
Career and Technical
Education
1.0
Arts (visual or
performing), 1 of which
can be PPR*
2.0
World Language, both of
which can be PPR*
2.0
Electives 4.0
Total 24**

*Personalized Pathway Requirements—Up to 3 credits chosen by a student, that are included in a student’s High School and Beyond Plan, and that prepare the student to meet specific post-secondary career or educational goals.

**Districts may waive up to 2 credits—Districts may develop written policies to waive up to 2 credits required for graduation for individual students for unusual circumstances, as defined by the district. Students granted a waiver must still earn the 17 required subject credits.

English—4 credits aligned with learning standards for English Language Arts, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the English Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s English Language Arts for more information.

Mathematics—3 credits aligned with high school mathematics standards and include algebra I or integrated math 1 and geometry or integrated math 2, and may include additional content determined by the district. The third credit of math is chosen by the student. It must be aligned with the student’s interests and high school and beyond plan, should help the student meet the state standards for graduation under the assessment system, and be with the agreement of the student’s parent or guardian, or school counselor or principal, as specified in WAC 180-51-068. See the Math Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Mathematics website for more information.

Science—3 credits aligned with learning standards for science, and may include additional content determined by the district. At least 2 credits in laboratory science. The third credit of science is chosen by the student. It must be aligned with the student’s interests and high school and beyond plan, should help the student meet the state standards for graduation under the assessment system, and be with the agreement of the student’s parent or guardian, or school counselor or principal, as specified in WAC 180-51-068. See the Science Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Science website for more information.

Social studies—3 credits, that align with state standards in civics, economic, geography, history and social studies skills, and may include additional content determined by the district. Mandatory courses, or the equivalent, include 1 credit in US History and Government, 1 credit of Contemporary World History, Geography and Problems, and .5 credits of civics. In addition, students need to successfully complete Washington State History and Government. Civics may be embedded in another social studies course. In this case, students still need to complete 3 credits of social studies in high school. See the Social Studies Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Social Studies website for more information.

Health and fitness—2 credits, that align with state standards, including1.5 credits in fitness, and .5 credits in health, and may include additional content determined by the district. See the Health and Fitness Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Health and Fitness website for more information.

Career and Technical Education—1 credit Career and Technical Education, or 1 credit of occupational education that aligns with the definition of an exploratory course in OSPI’s Career and Technical Education program standards. See the Career and Technical Education/Occupational Education Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Career and Technical Education website for more information.

Arts—2 credits, that align with state standards in visual or performing arts, and may include additional content determined by the district. One of the 2 credits may be replaced with a personalized pathway requirement (PPR). See the Arts Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s Arts webpage for more information.

World Language—2 credits of world language or 2 credits of personalized pathway requirements (PPR). If the student has chosen a four-year degree pathway in their High School and Beyond Plan, the student shall be advised to earn 2 credits in world language. See the World Language Graduation Requirement FAQ and OSPI’s World Languages website for more information.

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8.  What are the state-mandated noncredit-bearing graduation requirements for the classes of 2012 and beyond?

There are three state noncredit-bearing requirements for the graduating classes of 2012 to 2014: 1) a High School and Beyond Plan, 2) a Culminating Project, and 3) proficiency on state assessments.

Starting in 2015, the Culminating Project is eliminated as a high school graduation requirement. This applies to any student who graduates in 2015 and after, regardless of which year the student entered 9th grade.

For the Class of 2016 and beyond, in addition to the noncredit-bearing requirements of a High School and Beyond Plan and required assessments, Washington State History and Government also becomes a noncredit requirement. This change allows districts to offer Washington State History and Government at a middle school academic level, and allows middle school student to meet the graduation requirement before high school. If the course is offered at a high school academic level, the district may choose to award credit.

The High School and Beyond Plan: Beginning with students graduating in 2008, SBE, through WAC 180-51-061, WAC 180-51-066, WAC 180-51-067, and WAC 180-51-068 has required students to complete a High School and Beyond Plan prior to graduation. More information can be found on the High School and Beyond Plan FAQ.

A Culminating Project: Beginning with students graduating in 2008 and ending with students in the Class of 2014, students were required to complete a Culminating Project. Legislation passed in 2014 (E2SSB 6552) eliminated the Culminating Project as a graduation requirement. See the Culminating Project FAQ for more information.

Proficiency on state assessments: Students must demonstrate proficiency on different content-based state assessments, or an approved alternative assessment, depending on their graduation year.

2012: Reading, writing, and math state assessments; or, in lieu of math proficiency, earn 2 additional credits of math.

2013-2014: Reading, writing, and 1 math end-of-course assessment (either Algebra 1/Integrated Math 1 or Geometry/Integrated Math 2)

2015-2016: Reading and Writing HSPEs or 10th grade English Language Arts (ELA) exit exam or 11th grade ELA Smarter Balanced assessment, 1 math end-of-course assessment (either Algebra 1/Integrated Math 1 or Geometry/Integrated Math 2) or Algebra 1/Integrated Math end-of-course exam aligned to the Common Core or 11th grade math Smarter Balanced assessment, and biology end-of-course assessment.

More information can be found on OSPI’s State Testing webpage.

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9. Is the Culminating Project required for graduation?

No, the Culminating Project is no longer required for graduation. Beginning with students graduating in 2008 and ending with students graduating in 2014, students were required to complete a Culminating Project. Legislation passed in 2014 (E2SSB 6552) eliminated the Culminating Project as a graduation requirement. It is not required for any student (no matter what year the student entered 9th grade) who graduates in 2015 or later.

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10.  How are students receiving special education affected by graduation requirements?

Students receiving services through special education will meet graduation requirements as determined by their Individualized Education Program (IEP) team and defined in their IEP. According to WAC 180-51-115, districts must have formal, written policies and procedures for meeting the unique limitations of each student.

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11.  Where can I find the graduation requirements of each district?

Students and parents should contact their school or district to identify their local graduation requirements. WAC 180-51-045 requires districts to inform students and their parents or guardian of the students’ graduation requirements. In addition, SBE has established a spreadsheet of credit requirements for districts with high schools, which is posted on the Graduation Requirements webpage of the SBE website. If you find any errors with regards to the data presented, please send corrections along with official documents (board policies, student handbooks, etc.) to: Linda Drake, Research Director.

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12.  Where can I find a printable copy of SBE’s-approved Washington State Career and College-Ready Graduation Requirements?

A table of Graduation Course-Taking Requirements is available on the Graduation Requirements webpage of the SBE website at: http://www.sbe.wa.gov/graduation.php.

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