Graduation Alternatives
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Graduation Alternatives

Most Washington state public high school students will fulfill the assessment portion of the graduation requirements by passing state exit exams. If students don’t pass on their first attempt, there are retake opportunities.

With some students, however, retaking an exit exam or accountability assessment may not be a suitable means to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and skills for graduation. For these students, the legislature has authorized OSPI to develop state-approved alternatives are available for meeting a students’ Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) or Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) under WAC 392-501. In a small number of cases, students might also meet criteria to apply for waivers of the state assessment requirement.

The available alternatives and waivers are outlined below:

  1. Certificate of Academic Achievement
  2. Certificate of Individual Achievement
  3. Assessment Waiver

Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) Options

Collection of Evidence
The COE is an evaluation of a set of work samples prepared by the student in a classroom environment with instructional support from a teacher. Students must meet eligibility criteria and must attempt an exit exam or accountability assessment at least once before attempting this graduation alternative.

GPA Comparison
A student’s grades in courses corresponding to specific content areas are compared with the grades of students who took the same courses and passed the exit exam or accountability assessment. This option is available to students in their 12th-grade year who have an overall grade-point average of 3.2. Students must attempt an exit exam or accountability assessment at least once before attempting this graduation alternative.

College Admission/AP/IB Tests
Students may use their math, science, reading and/or writing scores on the SAT reasoning test, ACT or ACT Plus Writing tests, specified Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations, to show they have key skills expected of high school graduates. They may also use scores from specified AP or IB exams to meet the science graduation assessment requirement, which starts with the Class of 2017. Students must attempt an exit exam or accountability assessment at least once before attempting this graduation alternative.

Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) Options (for students receiving special education services)

In the past, the selection of graduation alternatives for students receiving special education services was tied to a policy of content area services; there were several alternatives, but not all of these options were available to each student depending on the nature of the received services. Beginning Fall 2014, students receiving special education services will continue to have multiple assessment options in mathematics, English language arts, and science towards earning a Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA), but a student’s IEP team will make the determination as to which assessment is appropriate for the student based on the student’s learner characteristics, taking into consideration a student’s PLAAFP, post-secondary goals, and previous testing history. Making assessment decisions based on learner characteristics and not special education services is a shift that accompanies the transitions in assessment and the additional science graduation requirement. Please see IEP Team Guidance document for further direction.

Certificate of Individual Achievement Cut Score (formerly Basic/L2) on Regular Assessment/COE
A determination by a student’s IEP team to establish a passing score at the CIA Cut Score, established within the Level 2, or Basic, score range on the state’s annual assessment. The CIA Cut Score cannot be used for state and federal accountability; but, can be used to fulfill state assessment graduation requirements for earning a CIA.

Off-Grade Level Assessment on Regular or Alternate Assessment*
Students receiving special education services may take an assessment specific to a particular content area (Mathematics, English Language Arts, Science) at a grade level different then currently enrolled. The student must meet the established cut score for proficiency (level 3) for the grade level accessed. * Use of the off-grade WA-AIM is intended for the students who meet the participation criteria for the Alternate Assessment.

Locally Determined Assessments
A series of state-prescribed assessments available in the content areas of reading, writing, mathematics and science that can be selected and administered at the local school. The LDA is accessible by 12th grade students only for purpose of meeting state graduation requirements. Meeting standard is scoring at or above the established minimum grade equivalency (G.E.) for the prescribed test or the established passing score.

Assessment Waivers

Out of State Transfer Waiver
This waiver is for students who transfer from another state in the 11th or 12th grade. The student may apply to receive a waiver of the assessment graduation requirement if the student has previously passed another state’s high school exit or accountability examination as approved by OSPI. The waiver does not grant the student a Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) or Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA). These transfer students are also eligible to access the Graduation Alternatives once a waiver has been approved.

Students who transfer before the 11th grade and have passed another state’s state-administered Algebra I, Geometry or Biology End of Course (EOC) assessment that is the state’s exit or accountability examination approved by OSPI may also apply to receive a waiver of the assessment graduation requirement in that content area.

Special, Unavoidable Circumstance Appeal (SUCA)
This applies to students in their 12th grade year (or 11th grade due to a testing irregularity caused by the proctor/educator – refer to specific criteria in WAC 392-501-601) who have yet to meet standard on the state assessment, Exit Exam or a state-approved alternative, and experience a “special, unavoidable circumstance” that precludes their ability to access a state-approved assessment as a senior (or junior as stated above).

WA-AIM Engagement Rubric

The WA-AIM Engagement Rubric replaces the process formerly known as Awareness Waiver. Students who meet some or all of the Engagement Rubric criteria will count as participants in local and state accountability reporting and will have an Awareness Waiver automatically applied to the state testing graduation requirement.


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What's New

Graduation Alternatives Application opens October 9, 2015


Off-Grade Level Assessment now available for Alternate Assessment during retake administration see more

Awareness Waiver automatically assigned when a student submits an Engagement rubric via WA-AIM in their 11th grade year - see here

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