SBE establishes state requirements for high school graduation. The legislature also establishes requirements, as do local districts, private schools, and tribal schools. Only after students meet all of the designated state and local requirements do they earn a diploma.
1. What is the role of the State Board of Education (SBE) with high school diplomas?
2. What is the purpose of a diploma?
The purpose of the diploma is to declare that a student is ready for success in postsecondary education, gainful employment, and citizenship, and is equipped with the skills to be a lifelong learner. The diploma represents a balance between the personalized education needs of each student and society's needs, and reflects at its core the state's basic education goals. The diploma is a compact among students, parents, local school districts, the state and whatever institution or employer the graduate moves on to - a compact that says the graduate has acquired a particular set of knowledge and skills. How the student demonstrates those skills may differ. Whether a student earns the credit by participating in traditional classroom instruction or by demonstrating competency/mastery through established district policies is immaterial; they are equally acceptable.
The 2006 legislature asked SBE to revise the purpose of a diploma. The new purpose was adopted by SBE in January 2008, and is reflected in basic education RCW 28A.230.090 and RCW 28A.150.200.
3. Can SBE or the Superintendent of Public Instruction issue a high school diploma?
4. How can students earn a high school diploma in Washington State?
There are five ways to earn a high school diploma in Washington.
- Earning a diploma from a school district.
- Completing and passing all required International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program courses; passing all internal assessments as scored at the local level; successfully completing all required projects and products as scored at the local level; completing the final examinations administered by the IB organization in each of the required subjects under the diploma program; and completing all local district requirements unless waived (per SHB 1524, 2011 Legislature).
- Earning an associate’s degree through Running Start and requesting a high school diploma from the community and technical college where they earned the degree.
- Earning an associate’s degree if they are 16 years or older.
- Successfully completing a high school completion program through a community or technical college.
5. Can school districts issue students a "state"diploma that meets only the state graduation requirements?
There is no "state" diploma. Students must meet state high school graduation requirements AND requirements added by their local district, private school, or tribal school.
Local school district, private school, or tribal school policies should specify under which circumstances locally set graduation requirements can or cannot be waived.
6. I need to find out if a student earned a diploma. How can I get that information?
Check with the local district. The state does not maintain centralized records of individual diplomas. Local districts must retain transcripts for 100 years.
7. I lost my diploma. How can I get a copy of it?
Contact the school district, private school, or community and technical college that issued the original diploma. They may be able to make a replacement. There may be a fee for processing your request to replace the diploma, and it may take several weeks to receive it.
8. I'm trying to verify that this particular online diploma is legitimate. How can I tell?
The State Board of Education has no formal guidelines for evaluating online credentials. One indication of quality is often whether the school issuing the credential is accredited. Regional accreditation agencies, which are the only accrediting agencies that accredit both public and private schools, and the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), a private accrediting agency, are the primary accreditation agencies that accredit online schools. The Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), which serves Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah, is an example of one of the six regional accrediting agencies.
Page last updated: February 2020.