Diploma Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: May 2012
SBE establishes state requirements for high school graduation. The legislature also establishes requirements, as do local districts, private schools, and tribal schools. Only after students meet all of the designated state and local requirements do they earn a diploma.
The 2006 legislature asked SBE to revise the purpose of a diploma. The new purpose was adopted by SBE in January 2008, and is reflected in basic education RCW 28A.150.220.
The purpose of the diploma is to declare that a student is ready for success in postsecondary education, gainful employment, and citizenship, and is equipped with the skills to be a lifelong learner. The diploma represents a balance between the personalized education needs of each student and society's needs, and reflects at its core the state's basic education goals. The diploma is a compact among students, parents, local school districts, the state and whatever institution or employer the graduate moves on to - a compact that says the graduate has acquired a particular set of knowledge and skills. How the student demonstrates those skills may differ. Whether a student earns the credit by participating in traditional classroom instruction or by demonstrating competency through established district policies is immaterial; they are equally acceptable.
There are five ways to earn a high school diploma in Washington.
There is no “state” diploma. Students must meet state high school graduation requirements AND requirements added by their local district, private school, or tribal school.
Local school district, private school, or Tribal school policies should specify under which circumstances locally set graduation requirements can or cannot be waived.
Check with the local district. The state does not maintain centralized records of individual diplomas. Local districts must retain transcripts for 100 years.
Contact the school district or community and technical college that issued the original diploma. They may be able to make a replacement. There may be a fee for processing your request to replace the diploma, and it may take several weeks to receive it.
The State Board of Education has no formal guidelines for evaluating online credentials. One indication of quality is often whether the school issuing the credential is accredited. Regional accreditation agencies, which are the only accrediting agencies that accredit both public and private schools, and the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), a private accrediting agency, are the primary accreditation agencies that accredit online schools. The Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), which serves Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah, is an example of one of the six regional accrediting agencies.