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Implementing Career- and College-Ready Graduation Requirements in Washington State

November 16, 2020

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In 2014 the Washington state legislature approved new career- and college-ready (CCR) requirements for high school graduation that better align with career pathways and with admissions standards at the state's public universities. The requirements took effect for the class of 2019, though some districts implemented them earlier and others received a waiver to delay implementation.

At the request of state and local education leaders, REL Northwest explored district progress in implementing the CCR graduation requirements from 2018 to 2019, identified student groups in the class of 2018 that met the requirements and student groups that did not, and examined changes in student academic outcomes before and after previous district-level increases in credit requirements for high school graduation.

Findings included:

  • The percentage of districts that had implemented all the CCR graduation requirements increased from 9 percent for the class of 2018 to 56 percent for the class of 2019.
  • About 27 percent of 2018 graduates statewide met all the CCR graduation requirements; gaps were evident by students' socioeconomic status, English learner status, race/ethnicity, and prior achievement.
  • Districts that had increased total, science, fine arts, or world languages credit requirements for high school graduation at any time between 2012/13 and 2017/18 saw few changes in student academic outcomes.

This study can help policymakers anticipate advantages and challenges associated with increases in graduation requirements and will help education leaders in Washington identify districts and student groups that may need more support.

Ensuring Students are Prepared for Postsecondary Opportunities
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