Washington State Graduation Requirements
All public high school students are required to meet statewide graduation requirements in order to earn a diploma. The goal is that more students will be better prepared to meet 21st-century demands in their working and personal lives.
Within these pages, families, students and educators can learn more about each of the new requirements, including what each requirement is designed to do and how students will be supported.
To earn a high school diploma, a student must:
The Graduation Toolkit is produced each year by OSPI to help educators and families understand Washington state graduation requirements. This guide is available online for easy viewing and in a downloadable format for printing.
Earning a Diploma: State Graduation Requirements
A one-page handout that covers the different requirements for each graduating class. It is translated into the following languages:
Our state graduation requirements are designed to ensure students have a solid foundation of reading, writing, math and science skills, no matter the path they choose after high school. We encourage families and students to meet regularly with their school counselors to ensure they are on track for graduation.
To be eligible to graduate in Washington, high school students must: pass specific state exams, earn all required state and local credits, and successfully complete a high school and beyond plan and a culminating project. The assessment requirements are as follows:
Classes of 2011 and 2012: Students must pass a state exam in reading and writing, a state-approved alternative or an assessment for students in special education.
Students can meet the state’s math requirement by passing a high school math exam OR by earning two math credits after 10th grade.
Classes of 2013 and 2014: Students must pass a state exam in reading and writing and one end-of-course exam in math, state-approved alternatives or assessments for students in special education.
Classes of 2015 and beyond: Students must pass a state exam in reading and writing, one science end-of-course exam and two math end-of-course exams, state-approved alternatives or assessments for students in special education.
Graduation Requirements and State Testing
Certificate of Academic Achievement and Certificate of Individual Achievement
- Students in the classes of 2011 and 2012 who pass the reading, writing and math WASL/HSPE/WAAS exams earn a Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) or Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA).
- Classes of 2013 & 2014: Must pass reading, writing and math. Class of 2015 and beyond: Must pass reading, writing, math and science.
- Certificate of Academic Achievement – A requirement for graduation beginning with the class of 2013.
- Certificate of Individual Achievement – Only for students in special education. A requirement for graduation beginning in with the class of 2013. Students can earn it by passing the HSPE-Basic, WAAS-Portfolio, WAAS-DAPE or Locally Determined Assessment in reading, writing, math and science.
- Students in the classes of 2011 and 2012 who earn two math credits after 10th grade, BUT do not pass a state math exam or a state-approved alternative, are still eligible to earn a diploma but they won’t earn a certificate.
- Students who transfer into a public school in 11th or 12th grade from another state or an in-state non-public setting can seek a waiver. They can immediately access state-approved alternatives (see below).
High school assessments
- Beginning in spring 2010, the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) replaced the high school WASL.
- Beginning in spring 2011, the math HSPE was replaced by two end-of-course exams in algebra 1 and geometry, or integrated equivalents.
- Students have five state-funded opportunities during high school to take each WASL/HSPE content area.
- Students pass with a Level 3 or 4 score.
- Score appeal process: Parents/guardians, after reviewing their student’s high school test, may file a score appeal.
- To learn more about the state testing, please visit: http://www.WAtesting.com.
- Students who have the skills but are unable to show them on state exams may use state-approved alternatives.
- Students may access the CAA options after taking the state exam in every subject area at least once.
- The Certificate of Academic Achievement Options are:
- Collection of Evidence – Students compile a set of classroom work samples with the help of a teacher(s). Collections for students in Career and Technical Education programs can include work from their program. The state scores collections twice a year.
- Fee Waivers are available for eligible students to take the approved SAT, ACT and AP exams. SAT or ACT – Students may use their math, reading or English and writing scores on college readiness tests. The minimum scores are: Reading – SAT 350; ACT 13. Writing – SAT 380; ACT 15. Math – SAT 470; ACT 19.
- Advanced Placement (AP) – Students may use a score of three or higher on select AP exams: Math (calculus or statistics), Writing (English language and composition); and Reading (English literature and composition, macroeconomics, microeconomics, psychology, United States history, world history, United States government and politics, or comparative government and politics)
- GPA Comparison – For 12th grade students only. A student’s grades in math courses and/or English courses are compared with the grades of students who took the same courses AND passed the high school WASL/HSPE. To access this option, a student must have an overall cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 grading scale.
- To learn more about state-approved alternatives, please visit: http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/CAAoptions
Assessments for students in special education
- Students in special education may take the high school state exams with or without accommodations or use the CAA Options.
- The following options are also available:
- HSPE-Basic – Students take the high school WASL/HSPE – with or without accommodations – but IEP teams adjust passing criteria from Proficient (Level 3) to Basic (Level 2).
- Washington Alternate Assessment System Portfolio (WAAS Portfolio) – Students unable to take paper and pencil tests show their skills and knowledge through a collection of their work.
- Developmentally Appropriate Proficiency Exam (WAAS-DAPE) – Students in grades 11 and 12 only take the WASL/HSPE – with or without accommodations – at a
grade level that best matches their abilities. Students pass by earning Level 3 on each test taken.
- Locally Determined Assessments – For 12th graders who need modified achievement standards.
- Awareness Level Waiver – Available for students diagnosed as performing at an “awareness” level.
- To learn more about special education assessment, please visit: http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/altassess.aspx