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Graduation Pathway Options


Linda Drake
Director of Career- and College-readiness

Legislation passed in the 2019 session (HB 1599) established multiple graduation pathway options. In 2023, HB 1308 passed establishing the performance-based pathway.

Graduation Pathway Options:

State Assessment | Dual Credit | AP/IB/Cambridge | SAT/ACT | Transition Course | Performance-basedCombination | ASVAB | CTE Sequence

Beginning with the Class of 2020, students must meet at least one of these pathway options to graduate

  • State Assessment: Meet or exceed the graduation scores in the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics or in WA-AIM (Washington Access to Instruction & Measurement).
  • Dual Credit: Earn at least one high school credit in ELA and at least one high school credit in math in dual credit courses (Running Start, College in the High School, and/or Career and Technical Education dual credit courses).
  • AP/IB/Cambridge: For both ELA and math, earn a 3 or higher on certain Advanced Placement (AP) exams or a 4 or higher on certain International Baccalaureate (IB) exams or an E on certain Cambridge International exams, or pass the course with at least a C+. 
  • SAT/ACT: Meet or exceed the graduation scores set by SBE in the math and ELA portions of the SAT or ACT.
  • Transition Course: Pass a transition course in ELA and math (for example, a Bridge to College course) which allows a student to place directly into a credit-bearing college level course.
  • Performance-based: Learn more about the newest pathway.
  • Combination: Meet any combination of at least one ELA and one math option of those options listed in 1-6.
  • ASVABMeet standard on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) by scoring at least the minimum established by the military for eligibility to serve in a branch of the armed services.*
  • CTE Sequence: Complete a sequence of Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses.*

*Note: Students who pursue these pathways (ASVAB or CTE) do not need to meet English and math requirements separately. English and math content are embedded in both pathways—and a student who meets either the ASVAB standard or the CTE pathway requirements has met the graduation pathway requirement.

State Assessment

Smarter Balanced Assessment

To meet this graduation pathway option, students need to earn at least the graduation score on the high school English Language Arts (ELA) and math Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) of:

  • Score on ELA—2548
  • Score on math—2595

The scores for graduation, identified by the State Board of Education in August 2015, were based on previous tests used for graduation and are below the level identified by the Smarter Balanced Consortium as on-track for career and college readiness—Level 3. The State Board of Education periodically reviews scores on state assessments. If the Board adjusts scores for graduation pathway options in the future it would be through a public process concluding in approval at a public meeting.

Note: Only students in the classes of 2021 and prior have access to the Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) as a graduation pathway, which includes both off-grade assessments and meeting the L2 threshold. Students in the Classes of 2022 and beyond, if using the SBA as their graduation pathway, would have to hit the graduation scores to be considered to have completed that pathway.

WA-AIM (Washington Access to Instruction & Measurement)

The WA-AIM is designed for student with significant cognitive challenges. If determined to be appropriate by their Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, students with an IEP may meet this graduation pathway option with the WA-AIM state assessment. The graduation scores identified by the State Board of Education (in August 2015) for the WA-AIM are:

  • Score on ELA—104 
  • Score on math--103

Dual Credit

Students must earn at least one high school credit in English and one high school credit in math to meet this graduation pathway option. Dual credit courses that qualify for this pathway are courses that earn high school graduation credit in English and math, and that allow students to earn college credit at the 100-level or higher (the college course number must be 100 or higher). Dual credit programs include:

  • College in the High School
  • Running Start
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Dual Credit

Students do not have to pay fees or claim college credit to meet this pathway, but they must meet the state or local program criteria or articulation agreement requirements. For CTE dual credit courses to meet this pathway requirement, the course must have a state or local course equivalency to meet high school subject area graduation requirements in English or math.


To meet this graduation pathway option, the student must pass specified courses with a C+ (2.3) grade or higher in AP, IB, or Cambridge International course; or pass the associated assessment at a specified level. Students must pass at least one course or exam in English language arts and one course or exam in math.

Advanced Placement

The AP courses that meet this option in English language arts are:

  • English Language and Composition
  • English Literature and Composition
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Psychology
  • United States History
  • World History
  • United States Government and Politics
  • Comparative Government and Politics
  • European history
  • Human geography
  • African American studies
  • Seminar
  • Research

The AP courses that meet this option in math are:

  • Statistics
  • Computer Science A
  • Computer Science Principles
  • Precalculus
  • Calculus

Students must earn a C+ (2.3) grade or higher each term in one of these courses, or score a 3 or higher on the exam associated with these courses.

International Baccalaureate (IB)
The IB courses that meet this option in English language arts are:

  • Individuals and societies courses
  • English language and literature courses 

The IB courses that meet this option in math are: 

  • Mathematics
  • Computer science 

Cambridge International

Cambridge International courses that meet this option in English language arts are Cambridge Advanced or Cambridge Advanced Subsidiary courses in:

  • English language
  • Literature and English
  • English General Paper
  • Psychology
  • History
  • Sociology
  • Global Perspectives and Research
  • Law
  • Drama
  • Economics
  • Thinking Skills
  • Geography

Cambridge International courses that meet this option in math are Cambridge Advanced or Cambridge Advanced Subsidiary courses:

  • Further mathematics
  • Computer science


To meet this pathway, students need to earn at least the graduation score established by the Board on the SAT and ACT. The available options and the graduation scores are listed below. A graduation cut-score on the ACT (no Writing) is not available at this time. The State Board of Education will consult with OSPI on whether and how this graduation pathway option may be available to students.

SAT and ACT scores (graduation pathway option)
Pathway Option SAT Score ACT with Writing ACT (no Writing)
Math 430 16 16
English Language Arts 410 14 N/A

(The SAT cut scores and the ACT ELA scores were adopted by the Board at the August 15, 2016 Board meeting. The ACT math score was established through concordance with SAT.)

Transition Course

For the purposes of graduation pathway options, transition courses are English and math courses that, based on their final grade, allow students to place directly into credit-bearing college level courses (courses with college course numbers of 100 or above), as based on policies and criteria of school districts and applicable institutions of higher education. Bridge to College courses are transition courses. Other courses may qualify based on local placement agreements between districts and higher education entities. Transition courses must earn high school graduation requirements in English and math.


The performance-based pathway allows students to show what they know and can do in real-world, hands-on ways that align with their individual goals for life after high school. This student-centered pathway is intended to be customizable, with the aim of being relevant and engaging to the student. Learn more.


Students may use different pathway options to meet the requirements for English and math. For example, a student may meet the English graduation pathway option using the state assessment, and the math graduation pathway option using a transition course. The graduation pathway options that may be used in combination are:

  • Smarter Balanced Assessment
  • WA-AIM
  • Dual Credit
  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • Cambridge
  • SAT
  • ACT
  • Transition Courses
  • Performance-based 


To meet the ASVAB graduation pathway option, students must meet the minimum score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) to be eligible to serve in a branch of the armed services at the time the student takes the test. The AFQT is a component of the ASVAB (not a separate test). Satisfying this graduation pathway option meets requirements in both English and math. 

The current score students must meet (this score will be confirmed and updated here at least annually by September 1. Students may choose to meet either the minimum score the year a student take the ASVAB or the score established by any branch of the military posted here on a later date prior to the student turning 21 years of age.):

Score: 31 
Date posted: August 28, 2023

To meet the graduation pathway option, the student must take the ASVAB while in high school. (The military has age and other restrictions concerning the acceptance of the ASVAB. Different branches of the military and different careers in the military will require higher scores so students considering a military career should look into military entrance requirements. See more information about the ASVAB pathway on SBE's ASVAB web page.)  

CTE Sequence

A student may meet this graduation pathway option by completing a sequence of CTE courses, which align with the student’s High School and Beyond Plan. Satisfying this graduation pathway option meets requirements in both English and math. A course that is used as part of a CTE sequence may also be used to meet subject area graduation requirements in CTE or in other subject areas through CTE course equivalencies. 

To meet this pathway students may either:

  • Complete a Core Plus program in  
    • Aerospace
    • Maritime
    • Healthcare
    • Information Technology
    • Construction
    • Manufacturing; or
  • Complete a 2-credit sequence of courses that meet the following minimum criteria:
    • Lead to a state or nationally recognized certificate or credential, or allow students to earn dual credit through CTE Dual Credit, Advanced Placement, or other agreement or program. 
    • Be comprised of a sequenced progression of multiple courses that are technically intensive and rigorous. 
    • Lead to workforce entry, a state or nationally approved apprenticeship, or postsecondary education in a related field.
    • The sequence of courses may be in a single CTE program area, or in more than one program area. 

If the sequence of courses is in more than one program area, it must be approved by:

  • A local school board or designee, or a local district CTE advisory committee, and
  • By OSPI through an expedited approval process, whereby the sequence would be deemed approved if the district does not receive a response from OSPI within 45 calendar days.
    • OSPI must provide a written explanation if the sequence is not approved.
    • Once approved, a local sequence may be implemented by other districts upon notifying OSPI (further approval by OSPI is not necessary).