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Since implementing HS+ across all of the Community and Technical Colleges across the state, as well as many of the Community Based Organizations, innovative practices have begun to emerge that help students in the program move into their programs of study and meet their career goals sooner.

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While HS+ was developed to award high school diplomas to students aged 21 and older, the statutory authority in RCW 28B.50.535 allows providers to award diplomas to students aged 18 and older as well.

WAC 180-51-035 provides the applicable standards for graduation for students under and over the age of 21. All students under the age of 21 must complete all graduation requirements, including non-credit requirements such as the High School and Beyond Plan, state testing, and graduation pathway requirements, regardless of whether they are earning a diploma from a traditional high school or in a community college. Students aged 21 and older are required to meet the minimum credit requirements for their graduation year and are not held to non-credit requirements.

In order to serve students between the ages of 18 and 21 who are missing one or more non-credit requirements, a HS+ program should work with a student to complete their High School and Beyond Plan and state testing requirements. High School and Beyond plans can be integrated into a HS+ program as part of the students pathway planning. Students can work with their school district to either complete their required state testing or, if eligible, the HS+ program may submit an Expedited Assessment Appeals waiver. 

High School and Beyond Plans

Programs will be well served to integrate the minimum requirements for High School and Beyond Plans into their intake and orientation processes to support students in developing and defining their goals as a foundation for identifying a career pathway. By standardizing this planning process, HS+ programs are better situated to serve students who are 18 years old and older.

State Testing

Students who have not met their testing requirement may apply for an Expedited Assessment Appeals Waiver. In order to be considered for the waiver students must meet all other eligibility for their graduation cohort year, have fulfilled all other graduation requirements, and have demonstrated the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the high school graduation standard.

Many students are well served in traditional HS+ programs where they are able to build their academic skills in support of college readiness while earning high school credits. Some students, depending on their goals, knowledge, skills and abilities, may also thrive in programs that support their enrollment in college level coursework to satisfy remaining high school credits. By providing students with avenues to earn dual credits, HS+ programs propel students into their program of interest and HS+ programs are able to increase the rate of transition for their students while also supporting students in the attainment of their high school credential.

I-BEST and HS+ co-enrollment may be an appropriate avenue for students who are ready to begin their college and career pathway. Co-enrollment in college level coursework that is not part of an Integrated Education Training program may also be a viable option for students pursuing their high school diploma. In addition to aligning the requirements of the college level program with the remaining high school requirements, students can chart their progress course by course to graduation. Alternately, students who are over the age of 21 or who were previously enrolled in Running Start can pursue an associate degree and be awarded a high school diploma by request upon completion of their degree.

The role of non-academic supports for students enrolled in college level coursework while pursuing a high school credential cannot be understated. In addition to working with students to clarify their pathway, support will be needed to determine college readiness by helping students to understand how to meet program and course prerequisites. Moreover, through advising, coaching and navigation services, students should have an understanding of the tools and resources available on campus and in the community that will help them achieve success. For more information on navigation and how it supports students, William Durden.

Pursuing a dual credit option will require a plan for funding as the college level coursework may cost substantially more than traditional basic skills coursework and may not be covered with a waiver. Information is provided below on various funding options that can support students that are enrolled in dual credit options.

Students may discount the idea of continuing into a postsecondary education or training program due to the cost of the programs and a lack of ability to pay tuition and fees. This is particularly true for students who have not completed a high school diploma or equivalent, impacting their ability to apply for traditional financial aid. Although the development of Ability to Benefit programs (discussed in the next section) can help provide access to federal financial aid for students without a high school credential, most colleges have a combination of alternative funding sources that are available to students who meet various requirements.

Workforce Funding provides grant funding and support services for students that are unemployed or underemployed and need education and/or training to enter into employment that leads to self-sufficiency. These programs include:

High School Completion Waivers reduce the cost of credits for students aged 19 and older who are enrolled in coursework that will apply to their remaining high school requirements.

The Passport to College Promise Scholarship can provide funding for up to five years of college for former foster youth who are income qualified and pursuing a degree or certificate in any field other than theology.

Colleges may also have institutional funding and tuition waivers that can support students as they advance in their career pathways prior to completing a high school diploma. Consider working with the college foundation to identify or establish scholarships that benefit students exiting basic skills programs.

In addition to the resources offered on campuses, eligible students can be co-enrolled in workforce training programs through their local Worksource which may provide funding and/or additional support services as participants advance through a pathway that leads to an industry recognized credential. Programs should work on co-enrollment with other WIOA titles as part of the local plan to develop and implement a one stop delivery system.

This program allows students without a high school diploma to access federal financial aid, including Pell grants, removing a barrier to funding that supports them in moving further into their career pathway with adequate funding. Requirements for students include the pursuit of an eligible career pathway program and either passing a federally approved test or completing six hours of college credit. More information can be found on the Ability to Benefit page.

Implementing Ability to Benefit increases the suite of options available to students for funding their education while also increasing opportunities for collaboration between BEdA and student services.

Updating the High School+ curriculum started with the idea that courses should reflect students, rather than expecting students to reflect their courses. A culturally responsive curriculum respects the student, connecting their cultural backgrounds and life experience with what’s taught. That is critical to helping students complete their courses and, ultimately, earn a credential. Students who feel connected to their instructors, classes, and institutions are more likely to complete their courses and earn a higher grade than students who do not feel that connection. A group of seven faculty and one instructional designer from the college system worked over the course of eight months beginning in January 2020 to update seven of 10 HS+ course packages to be more culturally responsive, intentionally including diversity, equity and inclusion. Basic Education for Adults programs like High School+ seek to provide access and empower adult learners, especially historically underrepresented and disadvantaged students. By embracing the community and technical college system’s vision statement and “leading with racial equity,” the updated HS+ curriculum aims to affirm students’ histories, cultures, and identities, thereby creating a learning environment that embraces students for who they are and what they can contribute to their education.

The seven courses can be accessed in OER Commons and Canvas Commons, each class is listed below with a hyperlink to the course descriptions and outcomes.

In fall of 2017 SBCTC launched ten HS+ courses that meet all of the Washington state high school graduation requirements. Each of these competency based courses have been developed to ensure a rigorous learning experience for students with contextualized content and curriculum that is anchored by the College and Career Readiness Standards. Although the curriculum was developed to be delivered through a flipped instructional model, it can easily be implemented as face to face direct instruction, hybrid, or as asynchronous online coursework.

The ten courses can be accessed in OER Commons and Canvas Commons, each class is listed below with a hyperlink to the course descriptions and outcomes.

SBCTC will continue to work with faculty to develop coursework to ensure that there are classes available to satisfy all graduation requirements, including the expanded requirements that will be implemented for the class of 2019 and beyond.

English Language Acquisition instruction under WIOA is required to lead to the attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent and support students in their transition to postsecondary education or training or lead to employment. Programs should consider how ELL students can demonstrate competency in content areas even if they are not able to demonstrate English competency.

Open Doors, a program of OSPI, is a strategy to increase the state’s graduation rate by reengaging out of school youth or youth who are credit deficient through community partnerships, offering multiple paths, and providing on-ramps to post-secondary education. These goals align with the desired outcomes for BEdA programs in Washington leading to strong K-12 and CTC partnerships in these programs.

By developing MOUs with school districts within a college’s service district, HS+ programs are able to enroll eligible students in courses that will satisfy their graduation requirements. The negotiated MOU allows the HS+ program to serve Open Doors students while they remain enrolled through the local district. As such, Open Doors students do not generate FTE and school districts provide funding reimbursement for each student.

Open Doors programs can also support youth through dual credit options such as I-BEST, academic transfer and professional/technical programs that lead to a post-secondary credential.

Comprehensive case management and student support is a required aspect of the Open Doors program. Case management staff must be available to “provide accessible, consistent support to students as well as, academic advising, career guidance, program information, employment assistance or referrals, and referrals to social and health services.”

To learn more about developing an Open Doors program at your college contact Troy Goracke at 360-704-4361 or

Temporary Waiver from High School Graduation Requirements

The Washington State Board of Education will accept applications for the Temporary Waiver from High School Graduation Requirements.  Accessing the waiver will allow colleges to grant diplomas to the Classes of 2019 and 2020 based on the credit requirements for the class of 2018.  This means that students in the graduation cohort of 2019 and 2020 will be able to graduate with a 20 credit diploma and programs will not be required to implement the additional credit requirements until the 2020-21 Program Year.  Additional credit requirements include one credit of lab science, one credit of arts, and two credits of world language.  Authority for this waiver is granted in RCW 28A.230.090.

For your college to access the temporary waiver, your institution will need to:

  • Complete the attached application
  • Include a Board of Trustees approved resolution to use the waiver
  • Submit application and materials to the State Board of Education

Once your college’s materials are in, the State Board of Education will consider your application for the waiver.  The timeline for submission and consideration is as follows:

  • For consideration at the July 10-11, 2019 board meeting, applications should be submitted by June 10, 2019.
  • For consideration at the September 10-12, 2019 board meeting, applications should be submitted by August 10, 2019.

Please submit applications to and include a cell phone number that you can be reached at in the event that board members have questions that cannot be answered from the materials during the board meeting that the application is considered at. Attendance at the board meeting is not necessary.

For questions, please contact MarcusAntonio Gunn at either or 360-704-4362.

Expedited Assessment Appeal (EAA)

The passage of Engrossed Substitute House Bill (ESHB) 2224 in July 2017 created an expedited appeal process for waiving specific assessment graduation requirements for eligible students in the classes of 2014 through 2019.

Some students in the Classes of 2014 through 2019 may be eligible to have their assessment graduation requirements (English language arts (ELA), math, or both) waived. The waiver requires that the student, through one of several pathways, demonstrate that he/she has attained the skills and knowledge to meet the high school standards and possesses the skills necessary to successfully achieve the college or career goals established in his or her high school and beyond plan.

An approved Expedited Assessment Appeal (EAA) waives the Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) or Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) assessment graduation requirement one or more content areas. A student who meets graduation assessment requirements with a waiver may be granted a diploma, but without the designation of a CAA or CIA.

Who is eligible for an EAA?

A student must meet the following eligibility requirements, by graduation cohort, to pursue submission of an EAA (to be granted a waiver, they must also meet approval requirements):

  • Students in the Classes of 2014 through 2017 and 2019 are eligible to submit an Expedited Assessment Appeal if they have met all other applicable graduation requirements (High School and Beyond Plan, Washington State History, and all course credits required for graduation).
  • Students in the Class of 2018 are eligible if: They have met all other applicable graduation requirements (High School and Beyond Plan, Washington State History, and all course credits required for graduation); AND they have attempted an alternative assessment option as established in RCW 28A.655.065 before submitting a waiver request. Alternative assessment options include SAT, ACT, AP, or IB tests; GPA comparison; Collections of Evidence submitted by June 2017; or Certificate of Individual Achievement options. Programs should retain evidence of the attempt of an alternative assessment option in the student file.

The following are graduation alternative options potentially available to a class of 2018 student, as well as a description of appropriate documentation:

  • SAT/ACT/IB/AP test: A score report showing that the student did not meet designated cut score in the respective content area.
  • Collection of Evidence (COE): A score report or record showing that the student did not meet the designated cut score in the respective content area.
  • GPA comparison: GPA comparison results showing that the student had a 3.2 cumulative GPA, over 2 credits in the given content area, and had taken an EOC and/or SBA in the respective content area.
  • Dual Credit: A copy of the high school and college transcript for the completed (but not passed) dual credit college-level (100 level or above) course.

For an EAA to be approved, the pathways for demonstrating the skills and knowledge required for graduation include:

  1. Successful completion of a college level class in the relevant subject area
  2. Admission to a higher education institution or career preparation program
  3. Award of a scholarship for higher education
  4. Enlistment in a branch of the military
  5. Other (please see OSPI’s EAA “Other” Pathway Guidance web page for more detail). “Other” pathway submissions require a committee review.

Submission Steps

  1. Verify that the student is eligible to have an EAA submitted on their behalf. Students in the 2018 Grad Year must have attempted an alternative assessment option.
    1. While there is no documentation required for submission of an EAA Waiver, the Community and Technical Colleges are expected to retain all verifying documentation within the student’s cumulative folder, in accordance with current records retention schedules.
  2. Fill out the Expedited Assessment Appeals Form spreadsheet
    1. Choose Math and/or ELA Waiver with the appropriate EAA Pathway
    2. Please indicate “X” in column if not submitting for that waiver
    3. If choosing pathway “E” Other, please review the pathway requirements and submit the worksheet(s) to support the pathway descriptions.
  3. Email spreadsheet to Troy Goracke
  4. Once the EAA has been submitted into the system
    1. A-D pathways, it will take approximately 3 days before it is automatically approved and the graduation database will reflect the waiver.
    2. “E” Other pathways submissions require a committee review.


Contact MarcusAntonio Gunn (360.704.4362).

Individual Student Circumstances Waiver

Beginning with the class of 2019 (students entering 9th grade on or after July 1, 2015), programs may waive up to two credits for individual students.  Students granted a waiver must still earn the 17 required subject credits.  Waived credits may include electives and any personal pathway requirements (1 credit of art and/or two credits of world language). Authority for this waiver is granted in RCW 28A.230.090.

Personalized Pathway Requirement 

Beginning with the class of 2019 (students entering 9th grade on or after July 1, 2015), students may earn up to three credits (1 credit of Arts and/or up to two credits of world language) to substitute with other courses that prepare the student to meet their specific post-secondary or career goals, as outlined in their high school and beyond plan. Authority for this waiver is granted in WAC 180-51-068.

Algebra 2/Integrated Math 3 Substitution 

Beginning with the class of 2013 (students entering 9th grade on or after July 1,2009), students may elect to pursue a third credit of high school level math, other than algebra 2 or integrated math 3, if the choice is based on their specific career or post-secondary goals and is documented in their high school and beyond plan. Authority for this waiver is granted in WAC 180-51-066.

HS+ Program Handbook Table of Contents

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Last Modified: 1/30/24, 3:56 PM

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