Elective Credit for Work Hours

OLYMPIA - On Thursday, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced a plan that would allow students aged 16+ to earn elective credits towards their high school diploma through paid work experience that can be verified through the school. 

Nearly 30% (45,000–55,000) of Washington’s students are employed in high school, according to Reykdal's office. 

“Through work experience, students learn employability and leadership skills––skills like interpersonal communication, personal finance, time management, taking direction, receiving critical feedback, and following through on commitments––that support their long-term success in the workforce and in life,” Reykdal said.

To earn a high school diploma in Washington, students must earn 17 credits in core subjects aligning with university admissions requirements, complete a graduation pathway and meet personalized pathway requirements, and earn 4 credits in elective subjects.

Under Reykdal’s plan, students would earn credits at a rate of 1 elective credit for 360 hours worked or 0.5 elective credits for 180 hours worked. Students will be allowed to earn up to 4 elective credits through work experience. 

"I was in student government, played three sports a year, and had a full course load, but I also had to work all through high school to help my family,” said Andre Byoune Jr., a recent graduate. “If I could have earned even elective credit for some of that work, it would have taken so much pressure off me. This is a great opportunity for future students!”

To earn elective credit for their work hours, students will be required to complete a request form and provide verification of employment to their school. Their school will be responsible for verifying employment, reaching out to employers to monitor student progress, and for keeping students’ High School and Beyond Plans updated with their work experience.

Reykdal aims to have the new program in place by the beginning of the 2023–24 school year. School districts will be required to report student participation and elective credit attainment via verified paid work experience to OSPI.