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Performance-based Pathway


Contact: Linda Drake, Director of Career- and College-readiness


Guidance and Tools

This packet contains guidance and resources that educators can use to help students design their projects, to help students manage their work, and to guide educators in evaluating the students’ work.

The resources provided are:

  1. Focus Standards Lists: These documents explain which standards from the Washington State Standards have been selected as focus standards for Math or ELA Performance-based Graduation Pathway projects. The lists were vetted and feedback provided by educators from across the state, and finalized by staff from the State Board of Education and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  2. Rubrics: These sets of scoring criteria provide clear guidance to educators about how to evaluate students’ final products and determine whether the student has successfully completed the pathway. The rubrics were vetted and feedback provided by educators from across the state, and they were revised and finalized by staff from the State Board of Education and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  3. Task Models: The task models outline the required components that must be included in each student’s work, regardless of how they design their project. These documents also provide examples of what student projects could look like and checklists that students can use to keep track of their progress as they work on the various components of their project.
  4. Student Checklists: These simple checklists will help students manage their projects and ensure that they have completed all the requirements.
  5. Training Videos for Educators: Using the Task Models and Student Checklists  and Using the Rubrics to Assess Completion of the Performance-based Graduation Pathway

Packet for download:


The Legislature passed House Bill 1308 creating a new performance-based graduation pathway option. Download the one-pager. Watch the recording of a recent update given by Director of Advocacy and Engagement, J. Lee Schultz, at an OSPI/WSAC webinar. Find additional information and answers to common questions on the new PbP FAQ. Download the summary of proposed rules.

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.

There is a lot of flexibility as the learning experience:

  • May take a variety of forms
    • Examples: project, practicum, work-related experience, community service, cultural activity
  • May result in a variety of student work that can be evaluated
    • Examples: performance, presentation, portfolio, report, film, exhibit
  • May, or may not, be done as part of a class where the student also earns credit

The performance-based pathway is combinable with other the ELA and math pathway options, meaning the student can do one pathway in ELA and another pathway in math. For example, a student could pass the state assessment in ELA and then focus their performance-based pathway in math.

What are graduation pathway options?
In order to graduate from high school, students must complete 1) a High School and Beyond Plan, 2) the credit and subject area requirements, and 3) a graduation pathway option (see graphic), along with any other local requirements. The graduation pathway options provide students multiple ways to show readiness for their individual education and career goals. The pathway a student completes must align with the student’s postsecondary goals as described in their High School and Beyond Plan. School districts decide which pathways to offer, and are encouraged to offer as many options as possible.

New requirements for districts
The newly passed law includes some other new requirements for school districts:

  • School districts must annually provide students in grades 8-12 and their guardians with comprehensive information about the pathways offered.
  • School districts must examine their local pathways data annually to see if there are any differences between groups of students in terms of who is participating in and completing the pathways offered. If there are differences, the district must identify why and make appropriate changes to ensure the options are equitably available to all students.

SBE must adopt rules (state laws in the form of Washington Administrative Code) to implement the new pathway. These rules will outline in more detail the requirements for ensuring the safety and quality of the learning experience and the assessment criteria for determining the student has demonstrated the learning standards. 

Local policy
School districts must adopt a local policy that meets state requirements before offering the performance-based pathway option. Most school districts that are interested in offering this pathway will be able to offer it beginning with the Class of 2025. Some districts that have already laid groundwork may be able to begin with the Class of 2024. For example, districts that are already doing mastery-based learning and districts that have a local culminating project requirement may be able to develop this new pathway faster.