Superintendent Reykdal unveils plan allowing high schoolers to earn credit for work experience

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal released a plan Thursday that would allow high school students aged 16 and older to earn elective credits toward their diploma through paid work experience, the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction announced.

To earn their high school diploma, students in Washington must earn 17 credits in core subjects, complete a graduation pathway and meet personalized pathway requirements, and earn four credits in elective subjects.

Reykdal’s plan would allow students to earn one elective credit per 360 hours worked or 0.5 elective credits per 180 hours worked. Students can earn up to four total elective credits through their work experience, with a maximum of two credits earned in one year.

“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.

“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 high school 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 have to complete a request form and verify their employment at their school. The school will then be responsible for verifying employment, contacting employers to monitor students’ progress, and keeping students’ High School and Beyond Plans updated with their work experience.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction aims to have the program in place by the start of the 2023-24 school year. School districts will need to report student participation and credit attainment to OSPI.