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HS 21+ Program Handbook
Program Requirements

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In addition to the eligibility requirements for ABE programs, individuals must be at least 21 years of age (at the time of completion) and lack a high school diploma in order to participate in the HS 21+ program.

HS 21+ program is competency-based, so students must meet all of the learning outcomes outlined in the subject distribution requirements. The subject distribution requirements have traditionally been used for designating credit in each subject.  For HS 21+, the requirements are used to determine the learning outcomes for each subject. The learning outcomes for each student will be determined by when the student started the 9th grade. Currently, most students will need to meet the outcomes for 19 or 20 credits. In the future, the distribution and the number of credits will be changing, so the learning outcomes will also increase. The Washington State Graduation Requirements 2012-2017 show the current and future distribution and credit changes.

Traditional, or Carnegie, high school credits are based on the number of hours of attendance and/or a completion of a specific course. For HS 21+, learning outcomes are based on the mastery of competencies in the required subject areas. This allows a student to master a competency and meet learning outcomes more quickly, or slowly, depending on student needs. It also allows prior learning to be counted for mastery of a competency. For example, a student may be enrolled in a writing class contextualized in science. The student would have the opportunity to meet learning outcomes in both English and Science. This allows mastery of competencies more quickly than the traditional Carnegie model where one course was equal to a certain number of credits, i.e., 1 college course = 5 credits.

Identification and acknowledgment of prior credits and/or prior learning. Most students will have some prior high school or college credits that can be evaluated to meet the requirements. Many students will also have prior learning from their life, military, and/or work experiences. For example, forklift and flagger certification could count for some of the competencies for the occupational education distribution requirement, or first aid/CPR certification and/or a food handler’s permit could count for some of the competencies needed for the health distribution requirement. Programs have the authority to decide the required level of competency as well as what prior credit/learning can be counted as meeting distribution requirements as described in WAC 180-51-061 and WAC 180-51-066.

As part of the advising process, all transcripts should be evaluated as well as any evidence or assessment of prior learning. Portfolios may need to be developed to assess mastery of specific competencies. An additional four credits (for a total of up to eight credits) can be added to the Educational Interviewing course for the development of the portfolio. Most colleges require that the student complete at least one course at the college to earn a diploma, so the student may have to complete a course even if the student has enough prior credits in each of the required subjects.

Transcript evaluation of prior credits and prior learning

The evaluation of the transcript should include evaluation of prior high school and/or college credits and evidence of prior learning. It is helpful to give information to students about what they should bring to advisors. See Sample Checklists and Forms for Students includes resources useful for students to have prior to meeting with an advisor. Transcript Evaluation Forms can be as simple or complex as the program chooses. 


Standardized assessments can be used to demonstrate mastery of a competency or be a part of the student portfolio. Some examples include CASAS, ACCUPLACER, COMPASS, HSPE, SAT, ACT, etc. Some colleges also evaluate GED® 2002 and 2014 scores as part of the evidence identified to meet competencies as part of the student portfolio. GED® test scores and/or certificates cannot be used to award high school credit. Colleges may require supplemental assessments to determine competency mastery in specific subjects. As students relocate from other states, colleges can determine if other high school equivalency test scores can be used as part of the evidence to meet competencies.


Instruction can be in the mode and/or model that work best for the program. Courses can be taught in a traditional classroom and using one of the instructional models below.  Technology should be integrated into the program, and some courses may be best offered as online or hybrid courses. Most programs are a combination of traditional, technology enhanced, contextualized, and integrated courses. High School Equivalency (HSE) Preparation, HS 21+, and other types of High School Completion (HSC) students can also be taught in the same classroom.


Contextualized instruction is instruction that connects skills and knowledge from multiple sources and experiences; applies skills and practices in various settings; and utilizes diverse and even contradictory points of view to increase understanding of issues and positions contextually.

Integrated instruction brings together traditionally separate subjects so that students can grasp a more authentic understanding of all subjects.

Both of these models are combined in the Contextualized Training offered by SBCTC. The combination allows students to learn and master more than one competency using real-life knowledge and experiences.

Courses may be set up separately, or they can be integrated into existing adult education courses. Sample Course Proposals illustrate how students can be enrolled in a course specific to the competency needed (ASE 1 Health) or in an existing ABE course where instruction is in the same subject needed by the student (ABE 4 Math). HS 21+ courses must have the same coding with the same CIP codes as other adult education courses. Separate item numbers may be necessary if there is more than one type of student in the classroom. For example, traditional HSC students will have the CIP codes 32.0205 or 32.0208, but HS 21+ students will have CIP codes associated with basic skills levels.   

Students in special programs like HS 21+ need to be tracked for both participation and completion. Students participating in the HS 21+ program must be identified in WABERS+ at the time of intake. Additional action is required once the student nears completion of the diploma so that the completion may be data matched for federal reporting.

At Intake or as soon as student starts program

To identify a student or a group of students as participating in the HS 21+ program in WABERS+, use either the Student Profile page or the Class Profile page. On the Student Profile page, check the HS 21+ box in the Special Programs section and click Submit at the bottom of the page.  If using the Class Profile page, click on HS 21+ in the Special Programs section. In the Identified column, click the box next to the name(s) of the student(s) participating in HS 21+. Click Submit at the bottom of the page.

At end of quarter before snapshot

As students near completion, this also needs to be marked in WABERS+. Again, this can be done using either the student’s Profile page or the Class Profile page. On either page, click HS 21+ in the Special Programs section. Click the 16-20 Credit Equivalence box next to the student (s) and click Submit at the bottom of the page. 

Important:  If these records are not marked as students near completion, the records will not be included in the “Earn HSD/HSE” cohort and will not be data matched. This will result in these completions not being counted for state or federal reporting.

Making corrections in WABERS+

This information about participation in HS 21+ can be added in WABERS+ but it cannot be removed without support from the WABERS+ Helpdesk. For assistance, send your request to

The provider should grade ABE courses, which would include HS 21+ courses.  If a program chooses to grade the courses, grading for these courses should be in alignment with the college’s current grading practices.

Transcripts should clearly indicate the award of a high school diploma. The transcripts should also include courses that complete the required distribution of subject areas.  Course names should indicate which required subject areas were studied and completed.

Two-year colleges in our community and technical college system have reciprocity agreements. Some private career schools and many four-year colleges and universities will want a high school transcript that displays all the required distributions for a high school diploma to determine admissions. 

The high school diploma will be awarded by the college and is the same as any other high school diploma awarded by the college.  An application for graduation form might be required by registration/admissions to process the completion and add it to the student’s transcript.  Most colleges require that a student complete at least one course at the college to be awarded a diploma.  

HS 21+ completions should be coded on the student’s transcript (screen SM6009) as an Exit Code 6 with an Educational Program Code (EPC) of H21 and a CIP Code of 32.0208.  The completion should be recorded in the YRQ that it was awarded to the student.

Note:  Before you can use EPC H21, you must first add it to the EPC table on screen SM5006.

HS 21+ Program HandbookTable of Contents

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Last Modified: 1/18/18 9:41 AM

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