K-12 School Supports Frequently Asked Questions
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  System and School Improvement

K-12 School Supports Frequently Asked Questions

9th Grade Success

+ Who is counted?

All first time 9th graders.

+ What is counted?

  • Students are counted as on track if they have earned credits in all credits attempted.
  • Students who attempt a course and don’t earn credit are not on track.
  • Incomplete courses are counted as off track if not changed to a grade within in the 9th grade year.
  • Students who withdraw are not counted.
  • 8th graders earning 9th grade credit are not counted.

  • If a first time 9th grade student is enrolled in School 1 and attempts 12 credits, and passes 8, they would be included in all students but will not be counted as on track (attempted credits do not equal earned).
  • That student moves, and enrolls in School 2 and attempts 8 credits and passes 8, they would be included in both on track and all student counts for that school.

That student moves again and enrolls in School 3 but attempts zero credits, withdrawing. They would not be included in the all student count, as on track, or off track for that school.

+ What dates are data collected from?

The courses include any term that ends between September and August of a given school year.

Washington will combine three years of data for accountability purposes, and the combined (over three years) minimum number of students to be included will be 20. This method will maximize the inclusion of historically under-represented subgroups while still meeting the requirements for being statistically sound.

+ I’m concerned my data isn’t correct. What can I do?

Data cleanup will give you more accurate results. OSPI’s data comes from CEDARS and what you report using your Student Information System.

When you look at your data for 9th graders on track it will include all classes, a change from our previous work on 9th grade. One thing to look out for is if you notice a 100% rate, you might check it to be sure that the course is coded correctly. We’ve had districts who miscoded classes so having no one in the class will look like a 100% rate.

Course equivalencies need to be checked for correct coding. This is important for when the data is reported by subject in other reports.


  • If you coded all of your Science courses as CTE, it might look like you have a 100% pass rate for science, when you actually don’t have anyone in the system showing as taking a science course.

+ What can I do to increase freshmen success?

Use a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) to guide your work. Find system supports on OSPI’s 9th Grade Success page. Start by using the Promising Practices for 9th Grade Transition rubric to self-assess your system.


+ What is chronic absenteeism and why is it important?

Chronic absence is when a student misses 10% or more of their school days, whether the absences are excused or unexcused. Every absence, excused or unexcused, is a learning opportunity lost and can have significant impacts on a student’s success in school. A student who misses 10% or more of their school days for any reason, which can mean just two days a month during the school year, is significantly more likely to fall behind academically and less likely to graduate from high school.

+ Our school has high chronic absenteeism rates. How do we get started?

The first steps in addressing chronic absence include: 1) understand who or which students are chronically absent 2) understand why your students are absent and 3) start by addressing factors that impact all students and families (or tier 1).

Who: Start by identifying the students that were chronically absent last year and who is on track for being chronically absent this year.

Why: In addition to the data in a school’s student information system, there a multiple other sources of data that can provide a deeper understanding of why students are absent including: the Healthy Youth Survey, focus groups, school climate surveys, & individual student screeners. There are many reasons why students may be absent, and these tools can help schools dig deeper in order to effectively address the root cause.

Start with All Families and Students: Building a strong and positive culture of attendance can start with establishing a definition of regular attendance, teaching the expectation and raising awareness about the importance of attendance through attendance campaigns.

+ What is our state definition of absence?

The state definition of an absence is when a student is not physically present on school grounds and not participating in instruction or instruction-related activities at an approved off-grounds location for at least fifty percent of the student's scheduled school day. OSPI currently undergoing rulemaking to amend this definition for the 2018-19 school year.

+ How is Regular Attendance measured under our new ESSA Accountability Framework?

The attendance indicator in the ESSA Accountability Framework is regular attendance. This indicator is the inverse of a school’s chronic absenteeism rate.

Students are included in the numerator if they have less than 6 full-day absences (excused and unexcused) and they are enrolled for at least 90 calendar days. 6 absences over 90 calendar days represents 10% of the student’s school days. (For each additional month of enrollment, a student will be counted in the numerator if they have less than an additional 2 full-day absences, on average.) Students are included in the denominator if they were enrolled for at least 90 calendar days in the school.

Both excused and unexcused full day absences are included. A full day is defined as missing 50% or more of a student’s scheduled day.

+ What is our state definition of truancy? How is truancy different than chronic absenteeism?

A student is truant when they miss 5 or more unexcused days in a month or 10 or more days that are unexcused in a year. Truancy is different than chronic absenteeism because it only includes unexcused absences. It has a legally defined threshold and process for districts and courts to follow. For more information, see the OSPI Truancy webpage.

Career Guidance WA

+ What is Career Guidance Washington?

Career Guidance Washington is a guidance and life planning guidance curriculum for students in Grades 6–12. It is designed to help students be what they dream. Specifically, career guidance activities have been designed to help students:

  • Develop clear plans for what they would like to do with their lives after high school
  • Learn what they need to accomplish today—while they are still in school—to reach those dreams

Career guidance operates on the premise that every student deserves help and attention, not just those who are high risk or high achieving. With career guidance activities, no student is invisible: every student has the support of a caring adult at school. The curriculum can be accessed from the OSPI website, and is free to all public middle and high schools in our state.

+ What are the Elements of a career guidance program?

A career guidance program is composed of Elements that work together to engage students, teachers, and families alike.

  1. Student Advisory: Students meet regularly in a small group with an educator-advisor (a teacher or other school staff member). Students typically stay with the same advisor and group until the transition to a new school or graduate. To keep advisories structured and easy to implement, the Washington State Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) has developed a full curriculum for Grades 6–12 that is based on academic and guidance standards.
  2. High School and Beyond Plan: Students in career guidance use lessons and templates to develop their High School & Beyond Plan.
  3. Student-Led Conference: Each year, students share their achievements, dreams, and plans with their advisors and families at a conference the student leads. The conference is tied to course registration, involving families in their students’ academic plans.
  4. Student-Driven Scheduling: Students who take advanced, dual credit, or Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses in high school do better after graduation. Career guidance encourages students to take the challenging courses they need for their post-secondary plans, and then offers them resources to help them succeed.
  5. Data Collection: Schools can collect data on a number of different indicators to measure student success. Early results show that students who fully participate in a guidance curriculum program take more advanced courses, graduate at higher rates, and are more likely to pursue a college degree or industry certification.
  6. Program Management: Implementation of a career guidance program is central to the career and college readiness mission of the school and is recommended as a component of the school improvement plan (SIP). The program leadership team should include an administrator, counselor, and teacher(s) who meet on a regular basis to collaborate program planning and implementation using data analysis.
  7. Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling: This curriculum emerged from the efforts to develop a comprehensive guidance and counseling program (CGCP). Such programs provide sound context for the development and management of this career guidance model and meet the expectation for RCW 28A.600.045.

Career guidance operates on the premise that every student deserves help and attention, not just those who are high risk or high achieving. With career guidance activities, no student is invisible: every student has the support of a caring adult at school. The curriculum can be accessed from the OSPI website , and is free to all public middle and high schools in our state.

+ How does Career Guidance WA help meet graduation requirements?

The Career Guidance WA curriculum can help students meet the Washington State graduation requirements for graduation from high school. Students’ work throughout the middle and high years will be saved and organized in their High School & Beyond Plan. The end result will help students meet their graduation requirements as follows:

  • High School & Beyond Plan. Each year, as part of the guidance curriculum, students complete worksheets on their accomplishments to date and their plans for life after high school. These worksheets help students prepare a full High School & Beyond Plan during senior year. This plan, which is required for graduation, helps students think carefully about what they want to do after high school and what they are doing right now to prepare. By the time they are seniors, students’ High School & Beyond Plans are clear descriptions of their plans and include a financial plan, as well as an academic and career plan. The High School and Beyond Plan meets the State of Washington’s high school graduation requirements, which became a requirement in 2009.
  • Credit Requirements. The guidance lessons helps students regularly check their credits and plan the courses they must take—not just to meet the requirements to graduate from high school, but also to be prepared for the requirements of their post-secondary pathway choice for 4-year colleges, 2-year colleges, technical colleges, industry standard certificate programs, apprenticeship programs, internships, military training, or on-the-job training.
  • In 2017 specific elements were required under ESHB 2224:
    • Starts in 7th or 8th Grade.
    • Identification of career goals, aided by a skills and career interest inventory assessment.
    • Identification of educational goals.
    • Four-year plan for course-taking plan that fulfills state and local graduation requirements and aligns with the student's career and educational goals with and individualized Personalized Pathway for student in Class of 2019 and beyond.
    • Resume or activity log by end of 12th grade that provides a written compilation any activities/athletics, leadership opportunities, work experience, or community service that can be used for writing personal statements, application essays, or scholarship applications.
    • For students who have not met standard on state assessment, interventions and academic support, courses, or both, that enable students to meet the high school graduation requirements, must be a part of this plan.
  • The High School & Beyond Plan is used to guide student middle school and high school experience and prepare him or her for postsecondary education or training and career.
    • After the plan is initiated for each student during the seventh or eighth grade, it is updated each year to reflect high school assessments, review of transcripts, and assess progress toward identified goals.

In many cases the plan is revised as necessary for changing interests, goals, and needs, and to identify the available interventions and academic support, and/or courses.

+ What is the High School and Beyond Plan?

The High School & Beyond Plan revolves around three questions: Who am I?, What can I become?, and How do I become that? The High School & Beyond Plan, a graduation requirement, helps students get the most out of high school and think about their future. Students work with school counselors and advisors to create their own individual plan, the “personalized pathway", throughout high school and revise their plan annually to accommodate changing interests or postsecondary goals on what they expect to do the year following graduation from high school. The postsecondary aspirations may include pathways for application to four-year colleges or universities, two-year community or technical colleges, apprenticeship programs, industry standard certificate programs, military training, or on-the-job training.

+ What are the best resources for school districts to make a High School & Beyond Plan using Career Guidance WA?

  • OSPI’s Career Guidance WA guidance curriculum for grades 6-12
  • State Board of Education
  • A Digital High School & Beyond Planner is available from WSIPC’s My School Data/Skyward Student Information System
    • This is available to ALL school districts for middle and high school students in WA
    • It is Aligned with the new High School and Beyond requirements, process and materials in OSPI’s guidance curriculum (Career Guidance WA)
    • This tool is available to ALL student information systems
      • Skyward users has no additional charge
      • Available for school districts with their own SIS (small fee for data connection)
    • 4-year course plan and state assessment are pre-populated from Skyward (or other SIS) data
    • Translates into 200 languages
    • Can follow students if they transfer schools or districts
    • Can view a student’s schedule, graduation requirements, transcript, registration for classes, and HSBP all in the same system without another log in
    • Has tools to document interventions, academic support, and courses
    • Dual credit courses and college placement tests can be housed
    • Parents and guardians can review using mobile devices and have input on plan

    Simple, efficient, and easy to use for students, parents and guardians, advisory teachers, and school counselors.

Dual Credit

+ What is “dual credit”?

Students who take a class, either in the high school, skill center or at a college, which has the potential to earn high school and college credit, are considered to be enrolled in a “dual credit” class.

  • Some courses (Career and Technical Education [CTE] Dual Credit, College in the High School and Running Start) allow students to earn college credit through completing the course.
  • Other courses (Advanced Placement [AP], Cambridge International [CI] and International Baccalaureate [IB]) give students the potential to earn college credit through passing a standard exam or series of exams.

+ Why is dual credit a school quality and student success (SQSS) measure for Washington’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)?

As of 2018, roughly 2/3 of all jobs require some post-high school education or training. Research shows that taking dual credit courses is related to higher high school grades and graduation rates, and increases in college enrollment and degree completion. Dual credit may also help students gain academic skills needed for success in college and can provide students with confidence that they are ready for college.

Shapiro, D., Dundar, A., Wakhungu, P. K., Yuan, X., Nathan, A., & Hwang, Y. (2016). Time to degree: A national view of the time enrolled and elapsed for associate and bachelor’s degree earners (Signature Report No. 11). Retrieved from National Student Clearinghouse, Research Center website: https://nscresearchcenter.org/signaturereport11/

+ How do I know which dual credit option is a good fit for my future/my child?

Regarding student readiness:

  • Taking rigorous coursework in an area of interest and/or skill can increase a student’s success.
  • Taking dual credit courses that have exams (AP/IB/CI) gives students a chance to try a college preparatory course and either not take the exam or not send the score if s/he doesn’t want to.
  • There is more potential for earning actual college credit, and also some risk, with Running Start and College in the High School since the student actually starts an official college transcript by taking college courses.
    • There is also potential for future impacts on federal and state financial aid for students who start earning college credits as early as 10th grade. See the Running Start FAQ for more information.

Regarding transfer of college credits or exam scores:
  • The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) maintains a document that compares program information, costs, and other variances between the different dual credit programs.
  • The WSAC Dual Credit Lookup Tool allows students to compare how their AP/IB exam scores will transfer in to any of Washington’s 2/4-year colleges.
  • The Washington 45 is a list of college courses that students can take via Running Start or possibly College in the High School that are the most likely courses to transfer into any public 2/4-year college in Washington.
  • Each college maintains its own webpage dedicated to “transfer credit”, which is the term most colleges use when referring to “dual credit”. Going directly to the college where the student wants to enroll will guarantee the most accurate information.

+ What resources are available to help students with the costs associated with taking dual credit courses (see the Resources link on the OSPI Dual Credit webpage for more information)?

While most federal and state-funded resources are available to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, students should always ask their counselor if there are any other school or community based resources that can help.

For all dual credit programs, schools annually receive Academic Acceleration Incentive Program funds based on the previous year’s dual credit course enrollment. These funds can be used to help students with the costs any dual credit program.

For college preparatory courses with exams (AP/IB/CI):

  • Washington’s test fee program provides funding each year to reduce the cost of AP/IB/CI exams for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.
  • Schools can also use Federal Title IV funds to help with test fees.

For concurrent enrollment courses through College in the High School (CHS):
  • Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and are enrolled in qualifying high schools that have applied for state-funded subsidies (using iGrant #732, due July 1 annually) can get 5-10 college credits covered by subsidies.

For concurrent enrollment courses through Running Start:
  • Colleges must make available fee waivers for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
  • Many colleges also provide assistance with books for low-income students.

+ How and when do I enroll in Running Start?

Running Start is unique because it takes place on a college campus (except in cases where a student is doing college courses on-line). Ideally, students will enroll beginning with the fall term so as to maximize eligibility. Depending upon the college and high school’s process, enrollment for the fall quarter/semester can begin as early as February of the same calendar year. Interested sophomores and juniors should begin asking for information by January of the same year in which they want to enroll in Running Start.

Interested students should start by meeting with their high school counselor. The high school counselor will help the student determine:

  1. if Running Start fits with the student’s interests, skill level and High School and Beyond Plan,
  2. what courses the student can take that will meet high school graduation requirements,
  3. what the eligibility, orientation and registration processes entail, and
  4. what, if any, resources may be available to help with the costs of fees, books and transportation.

At any time, interested students can also go to the college’s website, type Running Start into the search box, and explore what the college’s eligibility, orientation and enrollment processes entail.


+ What are the graduation requirements and where do I find the state requirements?

To graduate from high school and earn a high school diploma, a student must earn credit, meet standard on state assessments, and complete a High School & Beyond Plan. RCW 28A.230.090 states that the WA State Board of Education establishes minimum state graduation requirements and the High School & Beyond Plan. (WAC 180-51-061, WAC 180-51-066, WAC 180-51-067, and WAC 180-51-068). The Washington State Legislature establishes state testing requirements. OSPI Assessment has an overview of state testing.

All public high school students are required to meet statewide graduation requirements in order to earn a diploma. The goal is that more students will be better prepared to meet 21st-century demands in their working and personal lives.

OSPI has created a Graduation Toolkit to help educators and families understand state graduation requirements.

+ What is the graduation rate indicator in the ESSA Accountability Framework?

Graduation Rate is an Academic Indicator for high schools for the ESSA Accountability Framework. As students exit elementary and middle school and transition to high school, the system switches the focus from growth measures to a student’s ability to demonstrate proficiency in student success indicators, and to meet the requirements of high school graduation. The long-term goals for high schools reflect more emphasis on meeting standard and closing the “graduation gap”, by looking at data in each of the student groups. The groups include students who are from low income, racial subgroups, students in special education, and English language learners.

+ How is the graduation rate defined?

The measure of high school graduation is defined as “four-year graduation rate, adjusted for relatively large increases in extended-year graduation rates.” High Schools who have less than a 67% four-year graduation rate, using three years of combined data, in the multi-measures index will be identified for Comprehensive support. The base graduation rate will be a composite of the last three years combined, of the 4 -year cohorts. The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is the base for the high school graduation indicator. This process will combine three years of data for graduates in each student group in a 4-year cohort. When the three years are combined the minimum number of students that will be included is 20. Because this approach is more inclusive, the outcomes for more student groups will be included in determining which schools need support.

+ How is the extended graduation rate beneficial to schools in improvement?

The goal for our state is 90 percent of each of the student groups to graduate on-time by 2027. The student groups include racial groups, as well as low-income and special-education students. Schools with a significant number of students who graduate, but not within four years, may receive an extra point or two. This approach acknowledges within the accountability framework that for some students a longer graduation timeframe is appropriate.

Specifically, a score boost system, where the changes in graduation from years 4-5, 5-6, and 6-7 are distributed and schools with the largest increases would see a boost in their graduation decile score. Schools with high 4 year graduation rates will have a high decile score and will not be penalized for having a smaller group of continuing students. The intention of the model is to recognizes the hard work schools are doing to get to high 4 year graduation rates, but acknowledges that their corresponding extended graduation rates are also high. This model will recognize, with a point boost, those schools that have made significant gains in transitioning students in years 5, 6, and 7.

+ What supports and technical assistance is available to help schools increase graduation rates?

The Office of System and School Improvement, known as OSSI, will offer assistance. We will start with “Who Needs Support?”. When providing support, we will ask “What tiered supports are available?” and finally, to serve, we will ask, “How will tiered supports be deployed effectively?” OSPI will continue our efforts to organize our supports using a multi-tiered system of support framework. With intentional work focused on data, responsive services, and family and community engagement, supports are delineated between foundational and self- directed, targeted and comprehensive. Resources for graduation can be found at GATE: Graduation-A Team Effort and High School & Beyond Plan/Career Guidance WA.

High School and Beyond Plans

+ What is the High School and Beyond Plan?

The High School and Beyond Plan is a state graduation requirement. Each student must have a High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP) to guide the student’s high school experience and prepare the student for postsecondary education or training and career (ESHB 2224, Chapter 31, Laws of 2017). Students start their plan in seventh or eighth grade and then continue to revise them throughout high school to accommodate changing interests or educational and career goals.

+ What is the purpose of the High School & Beyond Plan?

The High School and Beyond Plan may provide students with the opportunity to explore their own skills and interests and discover potential career and educational options. This personalized plan helps to connect career interests with courses and career pathways or college majors. The plan helps students identify the steps needed to reach postsecondary goals. Students should be encouraged to take ownership over their high school experience and choose coursework and activities that are relevant to their goals. The High School and Beyond Plan also provides a means of tracking requirements for graduation from high school and entry into postsecondary programs and careers.

+ What are the elements of the High School & Beyond plan)

  • A law passed in 2017 (ESHB 2224, Chapter 31, Laws of 2017) that specifies elements that all High School and Beyond Plans must contain. The required elements include the following:
  • an identification of career goals, aided by a skills and interest assessment;
  • an identification of educational goals;
  • a four-year plan for course-taking that fulfills state and local graduation requirements and aligns with the student's career and educational goals;
  • and by the end of twelfth grade, a current resume or activity log that provides a written compilation of the student's education, any work experience, and any community service and how the school district recognized the community service.

In addition, the High School and Beyond Plan must also:
  • be revised as necessary for changing interests, goals, and needs of the student.
  • include a personalized pathway course plan that aligns with graduation requirements and post-high school plans.
  • identify available interventions and academic support, courses, or both, that enable students who have not met the high school graduation assessment standards to do so.
  • be advised for an 8th grade student who has not learned a Level 3 on middle school state assessment in math, the student must take a math course in both 9th and 10th grades.
  • for a student who takes a career and technical education (CTE) course that has been determined to be equivalent to an academic core course (a CTE course equivalency), include a record of a certificate of CTE course completion. The academic course is recorded on the students transcript and the record that the student completed a CTE course is part of the High School and Beyond Plan.
  • for students subject to the 24-Credit Graduation Requirements (the Class of 2019 and beyond, or, for districts that have a waiver to delay implementation, the Class of 2020 or 2021 and beyond), guide a student’s Personalized Pathway Requirement. A Personalized Pathway is a locally determined body of coursework that is deemed necessary to attain the post-secondary career or educational goals chosen by the student. Within the 24-credit graduation requirement framework, the Personalized Pathway Requirements are three flexible credits that are chosen by the student to help prepare them for specific education or career goals.

For concurrent enrollment courses through Running Start:
  • Colleges must make available fee waivers for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
  • Many colleges also provide assistance with books for low-income students.

+ When does the High School & Beyond Plan begin?

A High School and Beyond Plan must be initiated for each student during the seventh or eighth grade, and updated each year until the student graduates. In preparation for that initiation, each student must first be administered a career interest and skills inventory in 7th or 8th grade.

+ What state resources are available to assist with development of the High School & Beyond Plan?

  1. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has resources about graduation requirements. Career Guidance WA has a series of guidance curriculum for grades 6-12 with templates and planning tools for developing a school-wide career and college readiness program. Templates for the High School and Beyond Plan are included and are in multiple languages.
  2. Career Interest Inventory and Postsecondary Options can be found at Career Bridge from WA Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board
  3. State Board of Education describes a high quality High School and Beyond Plan.
  4. Online digital tool: A no or low-cost digital tool developed by WSIPC’s My School Data for the Skyward is available through school district student information systems. The electronic platform used the format in the OSPI Career Guidance WA High School and Beyond Plan template to provide career interest inventory, postsecondary choices, pre-populated 4-year course plan with state assessments, and captures activities, experiences, resume, and academic plans, with the ability to upload other documents. Parent access and school counselor tracking tools are also a part of this digital format, that can be translated into 200 languages. This digital plan can follow students who transfer to other middle and high schools in our state.

Student Assistance and Prevention Program

+ What is the Student Assistance Program?

OSPI collaborates with nine Educational Service Districts (ESDs) to implement the Student Assistance Prevention-Intervention Services Program. The program supports the placement and management of Student Assistant Professionals into schools. The professionals generally have a background in chemical dependency prevention and are often a Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP). They provide education, support groups, screening, and referral to the schools and students they serve. The program is comprehensive and tiered.

+ How are schools selected for Student Assistance Program?

Recipients for the Student Assistance Prevention Program are pre-selected through an assessment process designed and managed by the Department of Social and Health Services’ Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery. OSPI does not select the communities that receive funding or support for Student Assistance Program. Alternately, some schools and districts fund and manage their own district-based Student Assistance Program.

+ What prevention programs can my school or district access through OSPI?

Specific to substance use prevention, OSPI offers training and materials for districts (and schools) to implement the Botvin LIfeSkills Training. LifeSkills Training is a research-validated substance abuse prevention program proven to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, and violence. LifeSkills is targeted to middle school age students. This grant opportunity is funded with marijuana/cannabis tax revenues and is available for schools and community organizations serving middle school aged youth. For more information on LifeSkills, please contact our staff Emily Maughan at 360-725-6030 or emily.maughan@k12.wa.us

+ Where does the Dedicated Marijuana Account (DMA) funding go?

The Dedicated Marijuana Account (DMA) funding specific for marijuana prevention goes to the Washington State Department of Health and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). DMA funds are dedicated specifically to Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI) sites through DSHS. OSPI receives funds to support Student Assistance Program as part of CPWI. OSPI also receives DMA funds to expand Botvin LifeSkills implementation, and to support dropout prevention.


   Updated 3/14/2018

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