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Program Requirements

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In addition to the eligibility requirements for ABE programs, individuals must be at least 18 years of age and lack a high school diploma in order to participate in the HS+ program.

HS+ 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+, the requirements are used to determine the learning outcomes for each subject. The learning outcomes for each student will be determined by the year the student started the 9th grade.  Students in the graduating classes of 2018 and before will need to meet the outcomes for 19 or 20 credits in the following subjects: English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, Health, Fitness, Occupational Education, and Electives. Students in the class of 2019 and later will have additional credit requirements in the areas of Science, Art, and World Language.  The Washington State Graduation Requirements show the current and future distribution of credits needed in order for a student to earn a high school diploma.

Traditional, or Carnegie, high school credits are based on the number of hours of attendance and/or a completion of a specific course, i.e., one college course is five credits and five college credits is equal to one high school credit. For HS+, learning outcomes are based on the mastery of competencies in the required subject areas, not seat time. 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.

As part of the advising process, all transcripts should be evaluated as well as any evidence or assessment of prior learning. The use of unofficial high school  transcripts for placement or to award credit is a local decision. The Admissions and Registration Council (ARC) recently stated that most programs use unofficial transcripts for placement into programs, but require official transcripts to give credit. 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 and Credit for Prior Learning

Most students entering a HS+ program will have some prior high school or college credits that can be evaluated to meet graduation requirements. Some students will have courses on their transcripts that indicate they received special education services while in high school, including specialized instruction. Credits listed on a student’s transcript, including those from alternative classes, should be awarded toward a high school diploma. Per WAC 180-51-115, “No student shall be denied the opportunity to earn a high school diploma solely because of limitations on the student's ability.”

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 graduation requirements.

The evaluation process should include the review 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.


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® 2014 scores as part of the evidence identified to meet competencies as part of the student portfolio. It is important to examine the competencies that students meet through these exams and determine when the exams are sufficient to award credit and when they are best used as one piece of evidence within a larger body of work that demonstrates competency. For example, when using GED® 2014 scores, a college ready score in Mathematical Reasoning or Reasoning Through Language Arts may be sufficient to award math and English credits while a college ready score in Social Studies seemingly does not align with the required social studies distribution requirements for a high school diploma in Washington State. The GED Social Studies exam draws from four content areas, Civics and Government (50%), US History (20%), Geography and the world (15%), and Economics (15%). Programs should consider whether or not students are sufficiently able to demonstrate competency in US History when that topic makes up only 20% of the exam. Moreover, the GED exam does not give students the opportunity to show mastery of any content related to Washington State History. Similarly, programs are wise to question how many, if any, lab credits should be awarded from the Science exam. WAC 180-51-068 defines laboratory science as “any instruction that provides opportunities for students to interact directly with the material world, or with data drawn from the material world, using the tools, data collection techniques, models and theories of science.” Considering if College Ready score on a 90 minute test with 34 multiple choice, drag-and-drop, and fill-in-the blank questions adequately demonstrates the competencies of Washington states Lab Science requirement on its own is reasonable.

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.  Technology should be integrated into the program, and some courses may be best offered as online or hybrid courses. Although all programs are unique, most provide a blend of classes that include traditional lecture based instruction, instruction that is enhanced by technology (flipped, hybrid and/or online classes), as well as integrated and contextualized courses.  High School Equivalency (HSE) Preparation, HS+, and other types of High School Completion (HSC) students can also be taught in the same classroom. More information is provided in the Innovations section of the handbook.


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.

HS+ courses may be set up separately, or they can be integrated into existing adult education courses. Sample course overviews provide an example of information that can be used in campus course proposals and illustrate how the flipped HS+ courses are contextualized to allow students to meet competencies in multiple subject areas while enrolled in a single course.

HS+ courses must have the same coding, including CIP codes, as other adult education courses. Separate courses may be necessary if there is more than one type of student (state and contract) in the classroom. Because the CIP is on the course, a separate course is needed but can be clustered with ABE courses. For example, contracted HSC students (such as those in an Open Doors program) will be enrolled in courses that have the CIP codes 32.0205 or 32.0208, but HS+ courses will have CIP codes associated with basic skills levels.  For more information refer to the Student and Course Coding Manual. For coding questions, email .


Students in special programs like HS+ need to be tracked for participation and completion. Students participating in the HS+ program must be identified in WABERS+ at the time of intake.

At Intake or as soon as student starts program

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

CASAS Testing

Programs not advancing students by credit are to use CASAS assessments to appraise and assess all BEdA students in Washington State. SBCTC and community partners accept the validity of the approved CASAS tests as the standard used to determine an individual’s need for adult basic education. More detailed information on this option are available in the BEdA State Reporting and Compliance section of the BEdA Handbook.

Credit Option Assessment Method

As an alternative to CASAS testing HS+ students, programs can use the High School Credit Option in WABERS+ to measure and report educational gains by awarding required high school credits instead of testing.  In addition to the credits a student earns through coursework in a HS+ program, the High School Credit Option also allows programs to track competency demonstrated and completed outside of enrollment in a BEdA class.  Alternative methods for credit generation include the methods listed below:

  • Credit by Testing — Commonly accepted exams the demonstrate competency and are documented via a transcript or other official record. Examples include ACCUPLACER, GED, CASAS, etc.
  • Extra-Institutional Learning — Knowledge and skills acquired outside the institution and objectively verified through third-party certifications/training and crosswalks.
    • Incudes industry recognized testing/training
    • Includes ACE Training programs/institutes, industry certifications (e.g. NCLEX-RN)
    • Includes Occupational Crosswalks (Police, Fire, AmeriCorps, Military, etc.)
  • Course Challenges — Challenge examinations are sufficiently comprehensive to determine that the student has the same knowledge and skills as those students who enroll in, and successfully complete, the course. Only counts if ends up on transcript. A student should have previous training, private study, work experience, or other bona fide qualifications indicating the student has knowledge or abilities equivalent to course completers.
  • College Course — Any successful completion of a college course which meets or exceeds competency in a subject, excluding BEdA (32 CIP) courses.
  • Temporary Waiver from High School Graduation Requirements — Programs with an approved waiver from the State Board of Education may use the alternative 2019-2020 with Waiver Graduation Plan in WABERS+ for the graduation classes of 2019 and 2020. The alternative plans reflect the graduation requirements for the class of 2018.
  • Individual Waiver— Beginning with the class of 2019, programs may develop written policies to waive up to 2 credits for individual circumstances. All waivers must be documented and maintained in the student file.
    • The Individual Waiver may be only be applied to up to two personal pathway requirements which includes:
      • One credit of art
      • Two credits of world language
      • Electives
    • Programs may not use the individual waiver for a student who is in the graduating class of 2019 and/or 2020 if the program has been granted a Temporary Waiver from High School Requirements for said year.

More detailed information on this option are available in the BEdA State Reporting and Compliance section of the BEdA Handbook.

Making corrections in WABERS+

This information about participation in HS+ 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, but must grade all HS+ 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. 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.

Two-year colleges in our community and technical college system have reciprocity agreements related to the transfer of individual courses, distribution areas, specific requirements, and placement in order to aid in the transfer process for students. HS+ programs will honor the transcribed credits from other HS+ programs, including credits awarded for Credit for Prior Learning.

The high school diploma will be awarded by the college and is the same as any other high school diploma awarded by the college. The Registrar at each college will be a valuable resource to determine if an application for graduation form is required to post the diploma 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+ 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+ Program Handbook Table of Contents

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Last Modified: 1/30/24, 3:55 PM

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