2410 Policy – High School Graduation Requirements

Bellingham Public Schools’ mission, through a collective commitment with the Bellingham community, is to develop students who graduate from our schools prepared for success in the global community. Students will be exceptional in their own way, with strong character, a passion for learning, and ready for the widest range of educational and vocational options to support a diversity of life choices. This is our strategic plan, The Bellingham Promise.

The school district is committed to developing students and graduates who are:

  • readers and writers,
  • scientists and mathematicians,
  • historians and global thinkers,
  • artists, performers and trades people,
  • healthy, active individuals,
  • multilingual readers and speakers,
  • skilled users of technology and information,
  • critical thinkers and problem-solvers,
  • effective communicators,
  • leaders, collaborators and team players,
  • dependable and responsible workers,
  • innovators and creators,
  • confident individuals who continuously challenge themselves,
  • respectful and compassionate humans,
  • honest and ethical citizens who act with integrity, and
  • well-rounded community members engaged with the broader world.

A. STATE AND DISTRICT REQUIREMENTS

The board will award a high school diploma to every student enrolled in the district who meets the requirements of graduation established by the district. The board will establish graduation requirements which, as a minimum, satisfy those established by the State Board of Education. The board will approve additional graduation requirements as recommended by the superintendent.

All graduates will meet the specific requirements of their graduation year. A student’s graduation requirement year is determined by the student’s ninth grade enrollment date.

To earn a high school diploma, each student must:

  1. Meet the minimum credit requirements: Students in the graduating classes of 2018, 2019 and 2020 must earn at least 23 credits and satisfy the requirements for their graduating class. Beginning with the class of 2021, students must earn at least 30 credits and satisfy the requirements for their graduating class. All students must meet the standards required for the necessary courses or provide evidence of competence to be eligible for graduation.

Students who transfer into Bellingham Public Schools from another school or district will have their transcript reviewed upon entry into the district. Any adjustments in the number of credits required for graduation will be documented on the official transcript.

Students who receive services from the special education program will be granted a diploma based on satisfactory completion of a course of study that meets graduation requirements through general education courses, general education courses with accommodations, general education courses with modifications, or through approved special education courses designed to meet their unique needs. Deviations from the graduation requirements defined in this policy shall be determined by the Individual Educational Program (IEP) team, based on the student’s individual needs, and specifically outlined in the IEP document.

  1. Pass the required state assessments: Students must pass state exams to earn a Certificate of Academic Achievement. Students who pass state exams for those served by the special education program meet this requirement by earning a Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA).

Beginning with the class of 2017, students must earn a Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) or Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) by passing state exams or state-approved alternatives in English language arts (reading and writing), mathematics and science.

  1. Complete a High School and Beyond Plan: All students will develop a plan for satisfying the state and district’s high school graduation requirements and for their first year after high school completion. The plan should be developed in collaboration with the student, parent and district staff. Each student plan should be reviewed annually to assess student progress, adjust the plan, and advise the student on steps necessary for successful completion of the plan.

 

B. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

GRADUATION COURSE REQUIREMENTS – CLASS OF 2017 – 2020

English 4.0 English 9 and English 10 (Eng 201), and other courses in reading, writing, and communication
Mathematics 3.0 Required: Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 (Algebra 2 may be met by another third  year math course based on Personalized Pathway/High School and Beyond Plan including parent/guardian signature).
World Language 2.0 Students must earn two (2) credits in the same language (e.g., two years of Spanish, two years of French, or two years of German, etc.)
Science 2.0 Courses including concepts of earth, life, and physical sciences
Social Studies 3.0 Required: Contemporary World History/Geography/Problems (1.0 credit); US History/Government (1.0 credit); 0.5 credits of Civics (content may be embedded in another social studies course); and 0.5 credits of a social studies elective.
Health and Fitness 2.0 Health (0.5 credit) and PE (1.5 credits)
Visual and Performing Arts 1.0 Visual and/or performing arts
Occupational Education 1.0 Courses that fulfill the Occupational Education (or Career and Technical Education) requirement. *See Two-for-One Policy below.
Electives 5.0
Total Required 23
 

GRADUATION COURSE REQUIREMENTS – CLASS OF 2021 and BEYOND
English 4.0 Required: English 101 and English 201, and other courses in English.
Mathematics 3.0 Required: Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 (Algebra 2 may be met by another third  year math course based on Personalized Pathway/High School and Beyond Plan including parent/guardian signature).
World Language 2.0 Required: Two credits in the same language (e.g., two years of Spanish, two years of French, or two years of German, etc.).  Credits may be met through Personalized Pathway/High School and Beyond Plan and district waiver process.
Science 3.0 Expected sequence:  Biology, Chemistry, Physics.  Required: Two credits must be in a lab science.  Third credit must align with Personalized Pathway/High School and Beyond Plan including parent/guardian signature.
Social Studies 3.0 Required:  Contemporary World History/Geography/Problems (1.0 credit); US History/Government (1.0 credit); 0.5 credit of Civics (content may be embedded in another social studies course); and 0.5 credit of a social studies elective.
Health and Fitness 2.0 Required:  Health (0.5 credit) and PE (1.5 credits).
Visual and Performing Arts 2.0 1.0 credit may be substituted as part of a Personalized Pathway/High School and Beyond Plan including parent/guardian signature.
Career and Tech Education 1.5 Required: 0.5 Technical Literacy. One credit may be a Career and Technical Education course that meets the definition of an exploratory course as described in the CTE program standards.
Electives 9.5
Total Required 30*
*Principals may waive up to two credits for students demonstrating hardship or extenuating circumstances.

 

World Language Waiver

Students may request to have the world language requirement waived by the principal if the student has transferred from a program where world languages were not required or offered and the student does not have the ability to complete the full two-year requirement prior to the end of their senior year. Transfer students in this situation will be expected to complete as much of the world language requirement as is possible prior to graduating from Bellingham Public Schools.

World Language Alternative Credit Option

Students may elect to pursue two credits in areas other than a world language if the choice is based on a career-oriented course of study identified in the student’s Personalized Pathway and High School and Beyond Plan and district waiver process.  They still need to earn both credits in alternate courses.

To use this option, the student’s parent/guardian must agree that credit in another area is more appropriate than World Language because it better serves the student’s career goals.  A meeting must be held with the student, the parent/guardian, and high school representative to discuss and sign the Request for Alternatives to World Language Courses form.  This form acknowledges they understand the World Language requirement is a college entrance requirement and that they believe the other course selections are more appropriate given the student’s educational and career goals.

Health and Fitness Credit Waivers

The Bellingham Promise commits to developing students who are healthy and active individuals.  The goal of physical education is to develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity.  Students develop the physical literacy – knowledge, skills and confidence – they need to grow into healthy and active individuals in physical education classes.  The State of Washington requires 2.0 credits of health and fitness for high school graduation.  Students may be excused from physical education pursuant to RCW 28A.230.050.  Students who demonstrate competency and complete the physical education waiver process may have this graduation requirement waived.

*Two-for-One Policy for Career and Technical Education (CTE) Courses

The “two-for-one” policy is a rule change (WAC 180-51-067) in effect for students beginning with the graduating class of 2016.  Students who take CTE-equivalent courses may satisfy two graduation requirements while earning one credit for a single course; hence, “two-for-one.”  The purpose of this policy is to create flexibility for students to choose more elective courses or to address other graduation requirements.

Credit Retrieval Based on State Exam Proficiencies

Students who meet standard on the high school state exams identified below will be allowed to retrieve credit in the following ways:

State Assessment: Smarter Balanced ELA (passing at College & Career Readiness levels 3 or 4)
Previously Failed Course Eligible for Credit Retrieval: Any English credit taken Junior year or prior
Credit Retrieved: Up to 1.0

State Assessment: Smarter Balanced ELA (passing at high school exit exam score)
Previously Failed Course Eligible for Credit Retrieval: English 9 (Eng 101) or English 10 (Eng 201)
Credit Retrieved: Up to 1.0

State Assessment: Smarter Balanced Math (passing at College & Career Readiness levels 3 or 4)
Previously Failed Course Eligible for Credit Retrieval: Any math credit in Algebra 2 or lower
Credit Retrieved: Up to 1.0

State Assessment: Smarter Balanced Math (passing at high school exit exam score)
Previously Failed Course Eligible for Credit Retrieval: Algebra 1 or Geometry
Credit Retrieved: Up to 1.0

State Assessment: Algebra 1 End of Course Exam or Collection of Evidence
Previously Failed Course Eligible for Credit Retrieval: Algebra 1
Credit Retrieved: Up to 1.0

State Assessment: Geometry End of Course Exam or Collection of Evidence
Previously Failed Course Eligible for Credit Retrieval: Geometry
Credit Retrieved: Up to 1.0

State Assessment: Biology End of Course Exam or Collection of Evidence (COE)
Previously Failed Course Eligible for Credit Retrieval: Biology
Credit Retrieved: Up to 1.0

  • Meeting standard at Level 2 (Basic) may apply for students with an IEP where proficiency is designated at the basic level, in which case the credits at the exit exam score shown above also apply.
  • Previously failed courses remain on transcript and retain the grade of “”
  • Retrieved credit receives an “P” on transcript and meets appropriate graduation requirement.
  • Teachers retain the option to change student grades (WAC 180-44-010). However, the combination of grade changes and credits retrieved due to passing state exams may not result in students earning more than 1.0 total credits for that course requirement.

 

C. STATE ASSESSMENTS

Students may first attempt the high school Smarter Balanced tests for English language arts and mathematics in grade 10, with all students assessed by grade 11.   Students will be assessed with the End-of-Course (EOC) Biology exam no later than grade 10.  When the state high school science test that is aligned to the 2013 Science Learning Standards is available, that test will replace the EOC Biology exam and all students will take the high school science test by grade 11. The state EOC exams in Algebra 1, Geometry and Biology will continue to be administered to students as alternatives that meet their high school graduation requirements, until the state phases out each EOC exam.

To meet federal and state law regarding school district accountability, all students must attempt state English language arts and mathematics in grade 11, and high school science in grade 11 or EOC Biology in grade 10.  Accountability is met if students take the high school tests in an earlier grade and pass at level 3 or higher.

Students served by the special education program may access state-approved alternative assessments to meet the above requirements.

For students who do not pass a state exam, the district will provide additional opportunities to learn required content, skills and strategies to enable them to meet the assessment requirements. The district will provide additional opportunities for students to re-take the exam, or state-approved alternative assessments, during subsequent test administrations determined by the state.

 

State Tests Required for High School Graduation

 

Class of 2017 and 2018

ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

Choose one of the following:

  • Smarter Balanced ELA exit exam score1
  • WA-AIM exit exam score2
  • CAA graduation alternatives3
  • CIA graduation alternatives4

MATHEMATICS

Choose one of the following:

  • Smarter Balanced math exit exam score1
  • EOC Algebra 1 exam
  • EOC Geometry exam
  • WA-AIM exit exam score2
  • CAA graduation alternatives3
  • CIA graduation alternatives4

SCIENCE

Choose one of the following:

  • EOC Biology exam
  • WA-AIM exit exam score2
  • CAA graduation alternatives3
  • CIA graduation alternatives4

 

Class of 2019

ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

Choose one of the following:

  • Smarter Balanced ELA exit exam score1
  • WA-AIM exit exam score2
  • CAA graduation alternatives3
  • CIA graduation alternatives4

MATHEMATICS

Choose one of the following:

  • Smarter Balanced math exit exam score1
  • WA-AIM exit exam score2
  • CAA graduation alternatives3
  • CIA graduation alternatives4

SCIENCE

Choose one of the following:

  • EOC Biology exam
  • High school science test5
  • WA-AIM exit exam score2
  • CAA graduation alternatives3
  • CIA graduation alternatives4

1 Students can meet the graduation requirement with an “exit exam” score which is slightly lower than the “college and career-ready” score in English language arts and math.

2 WA-AIM is the Washington Access to Instruction and Measurement alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive challenges documented in their IEP.

3 Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) graduation alternatives include Collection of Evidence, GPA Comparison, and College Admission/AP tests.

4 Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) graduation alternatives include passing at level 2 score on a regular assessment, Off Grade Assessment, and the Locally Determined Assessments – each of which must be indicated in the student’s IEP.

5 The new state high school science assessment that aligns to the 2013 Science Learning Standards, available in 2018, will eventually replace the EOC Biology exam.

 

Approved By: Greg Baker, Superintendent and Kelly Bashaw, School Board President
Adopted: 11/18/03; 04/26/07; 02/23/2012; 02/28/13; 08/30/13; 08/21/14; 11/26/14; 01/29/15; 08/27/15; 01/26/17
Revised: 03/09/17
Approved: Board Approved
Legal References: Content
 

WAC 180-51-050 – High School Credit–Definition