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    24-Credit Graduation Requirement Task Force

    In January 2015, the Washington State Board of Education approved a two-year waiver for Seattle Public Schools, delaying implementation of the state's new requirement that high school students earn 24 credits to graduate. Under the waiver, the new requirements would take effect with the class of 2021, when those students enter ninth grade in 2017.

    Read about the state's requirement changes here. 

    The waiver gives Seattle Public Schools time to address the issue in a way that will most benefit our students. A primary consideration is that most district high schools offer a six-period school day. That means students with typical schedules may earn a maximum of 24 credits over four years, so the current system leaves little wiggle room for credit recovery or electives.

    The 24-Credit Graduation Requirement Task Force was formed in March 2015 to research and analyze options, and then make a recommendation regarding high school schedules, graduation policy and credit-hour requirements.

    The task force determined its recommendations in April 2016. Note that these are recommendations only. Implementation would depend on a number of factors, such as funding, bargaining, and School Board direction.

    Executive Summary for the Recommendations Report

    Months of work from two representative committees have culminated in the following recommendations to address Seattle Public Schools’ implementation of Washington
    State Law RCW 28A.230.090. The law requires that high school students earn 24 credits to graduate and that a high-quality High School and Beyond Plan is used to guide their course taking.

    The overarching message of these recommendations is that the Task Force believes Seattle Public Schools needs to create a balanced approach between schedule changes and increased and enhanced support of students to meet the state’s new requirements and prepare ALL students for career, college and life. More credit-earning opportunities –
    without other interventions, personalization, services, and guidance – could just be more
    opportunities for failure for some students. Ultimately, the Task Force feels that students who have more opportunities to earn credit will do so, and this is backed up by data from the Seattle high schools where more credits are offered to students. However, they also feel that without the direct, explicit support from the adults around them, these schedule changes alone will not do the job of moving all students to meet the new requirements.

    These recommendations try to strike that balance – fiscally, ideologically and practically.
    Further, the recommendations attempt to address and mitigate the fact that programs, supports and opportunities are offered differentially to high school students throughout the district. One of the unifying messages across the recommendations is that students should have equitable access to credit-earning opportunities and the supports, services and programs that allow them to successfully attain those credits.

    Lastly, the Task Force understands that these recommendations are the beginning of a long process of consideration of these issues that starts with the superintendent and district leadership and extends to principals, teachers and families. While all of those stakeholder groups were represented in the process, further engagement with all of them is imperative. The report is constructed to allow those who weren’t explicitly involved in the process to understand what was discussed, what resources were used, what input was gathered, and what risks were considered. The comprehensive nature of the report is intended to support an ongoing dialogue about the recommendations and, as much as possible, support the next steps.
    Below is a summary of the recommendations:

    Recommendation I:
    High School and Beyond PlanningAdopt and deploy a districtwide, electronic High School and Beyond planning platform.

    Recommendation II:
    Student Support and Advisory

    1. Implement a credit-bearing advisory in every high school.
    2. Reduce counselors’ case-loads to 1:250.
    Recommendation III: Daily Schedule
    Utilize a 5-period day schedule, on a trimester calendar.

    Recommendation IV: Extended Learning

    1. Run digital credit-retrieval courses during the school day, supported by a classroom teacher.
    2. Convene a committee to create a long-term plan for an enhanced, district-wide approach to digital coursework in high schools.
    3. Systematize the earning of high school credit at the middle school level so that middle school students across the district have the same opportunity to earn high school credit.
    4. Develop a long-term plan for the expansion of well-articulated Career and Technical Education programs and pathways matched to student interest and labor market needs and increased work-site learning opportunities.
    5. Support a Career Center Specialist/Work-Site Learning Instructor at each high school.
    6. Develop a comprehensive plan for summer school that provides access to students for both credit retrieval and, eventually, first time credit.
    Recommendation V: Policies

    1. Adjust board policy 2415 to reflect state requirements and connect the service learning requirement directly to the High School and Beyond Plan.
    2. Adopt a new policy waiving two credits (of the 24) for students with “unusual circumstances.”
    3. Rewrite board policy 2420 to reflect these recommendations.

    If you would like a complete copy of the 24-Credit task force recommendations report, please contact Caleb Perkins, Director of College & Career Readiness (


    Dec. 18, 2015: Review timeline and next steps with current committee.
    Dec. 18 to Jan. 20: Solicit new membership from Seattle Education Association (SEA).
    Jan. 20, 2016: High School Steering Committee to discuss the timeline and select small subgroup to review primarily these four issues: scheduling, online learning, High School and Beyond planning and policies.
    February: Small group meetings (daylong) combining High School Steering Committee and SEA membership to select three options for 24 credits.
    February-March: 24-Credit Task Force to hold approximately three daylong meetings. They will narrow the Steering Committee options to one recommendation, addressing selection criteria and recommendations for policy changes.
    March: Feedback sought from community. (See survey links at right.)
    March-April: Task force will provide draft recommendation to Associate Superintendent Michael Tolley.
    March-April: Recommendation shared with principals at Leadership Learning Day.
    April 2016: Task force final submission of recommendation.

    Task force purpose, commitment and scope

    The task force is formally known as 24-Credit Task Force - Uplifting High Schools to World Class for College and Career Readiness.The task force will review, research, analyze, dialogue and ultimately develop a formal recommendation regarding systemic scheduling, policies,and procedures that will provide the best high school environment for all high school students in Seattle Public Schools.

    We will engage stakeholders in facilitated discussions to:

    • Understand the current reality in our high schools
    • Understand the college and career readiness initiative and its impact on the students of Seattle Public Schools
    • Provide recommendations to the superintendent by April 2016 regarding a systemic and comprehensive plan to uplift our high schools to world class so that all students are college and career ready

    Scope of Work

    • Understand Washington Administrative Code 180-51-068 requirements for college and career readiness
    • Understand current reality in Seattle Public Schools for high school students including schedules, access to courses, policies, procedures and graduation requirements
    • Discovery and research of schedule models
    • Analysis of the effect a different schedule will have on class size and the number of classes needed to accommodate student schedules
    • Community engagement acquiring feedback on ideas
    • Analysis of professional development needed, if at all, to transition to new master schedule and successfully achieve the goals of the career and college readiness initiative
    • Discuss desired outcomes and impact for PE waivers, access to career and technical courses, access to advanced, college-level courses, athletic eligibility, district graduation requirements such as 2.0 GPA, alternative education options and credit recovery, freshmen success, implications of 24-credit waiver, meaningful High School and Beyond Plan and other opportunities as appropriate to our purpose
    • Agree as we encounter concerns that we document and address in final work
    • Grapple with current reality of autonomy in Seattle high schools
    • Address the tension, equity and reality of 24 credits, student aspirations and all students becoming career and college ready
    • Understand and encourage innovative thinking such as interdisciplinary credit, dual credit and flexibility for students
    • Examine credit retrieval

    Task Force Members

    • Maria Aliza
    • Kimberlee Campbell
    • Monica Dewald
    • Sheree Fantz-Gut
    • Dan Gallagher
    • Melinda Greene
    • Ramona Hattendorf
    • Jill Hudson
    • Katie Huguenin
    • Sue Kershaw
    • Sherri Kokx
    • Mark Lovre
    • Beverly Luster
    • Martha McLaren
    • Fredirica Merrell
    • Marlene Mersch
    • Steve Miranda
    • Victoria Molinarolo
    • Myrna Muto
    • Gregory Dawson Nichols
    • Juan Price
    • Audrey Querns
    • Laurie Rasmussen
    • Garth Reeves
    • Michael Rice
    • Kristina Rodgers
    • Kendra Rose
    • Gail See
    • Gail Sehlhorst
    • Erin Shafkind
    • Michelle Sloan
    • Andrea Taylor
    • Yae-Jae Want
    • Shani Watkins
    • Sharmila Naidu Williams