Graduation Requirements Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: December 2012
RCW 28A.230.090 authorizes SBE to establish state graduation requirements. SBE has established credit requirements, a Culminating Project, and a High School and Beyond Plan (WAC 180-51-061, WAC 180-51-066, and WAC 180-51-067).
The Legislature has established the current state assessment system, which includes high school assessments that students must pass to earn a high school diploma. 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.
Local districts and tribal schools may add other 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 Culminating Project or High School and Beyond Plan, nor take or meet standard on state assessments (RCW 28A.195).
See more information on the OSPI website.
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 2009 would be assigned a graduation year of 2013 and would be expected to meet requirements for the graduating class of 2013. If the student graduates early—in 2012 instead of 2013—she or he still needs to meet the requirements for the class of 2013.
This also applies if a student stays in high school longer than four year. A student who entered ninth grade in 2008 would be assigned a graduation year of 2012. But it the student did not actually graduate until 2013, she or he would still be held to the
SBE adopted a new definition of a credit in November 2011. The new language of WAC 180-51-050 reads:
Credits can be awarded only for work that is at an academic level of ninth grade (or higher). More information on the state’s academic standards and grade level expectations is available on the OSPI website.
SBE has established 19 state-mandated graduation credit requirements for students in the class of 2012. WAC 180-51-061 determines the distribution of credits required for these classes.
SBE has established 20 state-mandated credits for the classes of 2013-2015. WAC 180-51-066 determines the distribution of credits required for these classes.
* Math credits are specified to be Algebra 1 or Integrated Mathematics 1, Geometry or Integrated Mathematics 2, and Algebra 2 or Integrated Mathematics 3. Students may take a different third credit of math under circumstances defined in WAC 180-51-066.
SBE has established 20 state-mandated credits for the class of 2016 and beyond. WAC 180-51-067 determines the distribution of credits required for these classes.
* Math credits are specified to be Algebra 1 or Integrated Mathematics 1, Geometry or Integrated Mathematics 2, and Algebra 2 or Integrated Mathematics 3. Students may take a different third credit of math under circumstances defined in WAC 180-51-067.
These requirements are in effect unless a district passed a local board resolution by June 1, 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.
There are three state noncredit-bearing requirements for graduation for the classes of 2012 to 2015:
For the class of 2016 and beyond, in addition to the 3 noncredit-bearing requirements above, 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. If 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, and WAC 180-51-067 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, SBE, through WAC 180-51-061, WAC 180-51-066, and WAC 180-51-067 has required students to complete a Culminating Project. More information can be found on the Culminating Project FAQ.
Proficiency on state assessments. Students must demonstrate proficiency on different content-based state assessments, depending on their graduation year.
2012: Reading, writing, and math state assessments; or, in lieu of math proficiency, earn two additional credits of math.
2013-2014: Reading, writing, and one math end-of-course assessment (either Algebra 1 or Geometry)
2015-2016: Reading, writing, two math end-of-course assessments, one biology end-of-course assessment.
More information can be found on OSPI's website.
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.
SBE has established a spreadsheet of credit requirements for the 247 districts with high schools. The spreadsheet currently contains Washington districts’ 2013 graduation requirements. The spreadsheet is available in (excel) format. 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.
The graduation requirements approved in 2010 are listed on the SBE’s website. SBE initiated some of these changes in a rule adopted in November 2011 (see response to question #6 above). Not all of the requirements are yet adopted in rule.
*3 (0.5 credit of civics, including study of the U.S. and Washington Constitutions) per RCW 28A.230.170; RCW 28A.230.090. ** Students must earn credits in fitness unless excused per RCW 28A. 230.050. *** Student-choice credits that may be determined by the individual’s High School and Beyond Plan. **** Up to 2 credits could be waived by local administrators for students who have attempted 24 credits. Students must earn the designated credits in the mandatory subjects.
SBE approved the following components as requirements to the High School and Beyond Plan:
In order to create greater consistency in project expectations among districts, SBE may require all students to complete a portfolio, and a presentation. The project(s) may also include, for example: a research or reflective paper, community service, job shadowing, internship, or other components deemed appropriate by the district.