Alternative Paths to Graduation
Several different options are available for students who are looking for alternatives to the courses offered in their high schools. Students and parents may want to explore these options depending on a student’s interests or needs.
- STEM School Signature Programs Open to High School Students
- WANIC Skills Center Programs
- Running Start (taking courses at community colleges)
- College in the High School
- Using CTE Equivalency Courses to Meet Two Graduation Requirements
- LWSD Online Courses
- Outside credit
- Credit retrieval
Every high school in the district offers “Signature Courses” and/or “Signature Programs.” A Signature Course is a 1 period class where students earn 1 credit. A Signature Program is a 2-3 period block of classes where students earn 2-3 credits.
- Earn academic credit required for graduation (1-3 credits);
- Learn through a thematic, interdisciplinary curriculum connected to a career pathway;
- Engage in problem-based learning and industry-based projects; and,
- Learn from both teachers and professionals in the field through community and business-based partnerships.
As part of the design plans for the Tesla STEM Choice High School, eleventh and twelfth grade students who attend one of the district’s comprehensive high schools have an opportunity to enroll in one of the Signature Programs at Tesla STEM High School.
- The Tesla STEM High School Signature programs available to 11th graders are:
- Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Design
- The Tesla STEM High School Signature programs available to 12th graders are:
- Biomedical Engineering
- Advanced Physics/Global Engineering
There are 25 openings in each of the school’s Signature Programs. Students will attend these three-period blocks along with full-time Tesla STEM High School students. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the Tesla STEM High School. If more than 25 students apply for each lab, selection will be done through a lottery process. Students chosen through the lottery must work with their home school counselor to ensure that attendance in the Tesla STEM Signature Program of their choice fits within their plan to meet district high school graduation requirements. These students will continue to attend courses in their home high school in the other three periods when they are not attending the Tesla STEM High School Signature Program, and/or complete other courses through Running Start.
Learn more about the Tesla STEM High School Signature Programs, as well as the application process, on the Tesla STEM High School website.
WANIC Skills Center (wanic.lwsd.org) offers high school programs that serve multiple school districts and delivers industry-defined Career and Technical Education programs in fields ranging from firefighting and police work to computer game design and healthcare. Courses are available to prepare for careers in Agriculture, Science & Natural Resources; Art, Media, Communication & Design; Business, Marketing & Management; Engineering, Science & Technology; Health & Human Services; Information Technology. Some courses may also be available in the summer.
Skills Center classes are offered at many local high schools in our area, at DigiPen Institute of Technology, and at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Many skills center programs are offered both during and after the regular school day. Students may attend their home high school for part or all of their day and also attend skills center programs to earn additional high school credits at no cost to the student.
- Consult with your high school counselor for application instruction and program approval.
- Take literacy and mathematics assessments at the community or technical college, which the student must schedule.
- Have junior or senior standing in high school before taking courses through Running Start.
- Juniors: you must have completed the following district performance-based graduation requirements: one of the essays; the QSR Lab Report and the problem-solving and reasoning report. You must also be on track for completion of required 10th grade course sequences and meeting state graduation requirements, including the culminating project.
- Seniors: All of the above plus one more essay (total of two) and satisfactory completion of the 11th grade course sequences.
- Meet all LWSD graduation requirements through course work in the high school or through Running Start.
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- The course is not offered at their school or
- The student is unable to fit the course into their regular 6-period schedule.
These online courses meet both district and state standards as well as maintain the high standards for content and rigor that are available in all LWSD classes. Students access the online class through an internet-connected computer. Coursework and online instruction may occur outside of the school day. Sections of available classes will be offered based upon spring student enrollment requests. Students who select online classes will need to meet with their school counselor in the spring to discuss class availability as well as to determine whether online learning is right for them.
- Online Washington History
Online Washington History is a .5 credit class that provides the knowledge and awareness of the geography, native inhabitants, early settlers, and the forces that drove modernization and statehood. Students will also study Washington’s emergence as a force for economic development and international trade. This class meets the Washington State History graduation requirement.
- Online Health
Online Health is a comprehensive .5 credit health course that provides students with essential knowledge and decision makings kills for a healthy lifestyle. Students will analyze aspects of emotional, social, and physical health and how these realms of health influence each other. Students will apply principles of health and wellness to their own lives. In addition, they will study behavior change and set goals to work on throughout the semester. Other topics of study include substance abuse, safety and injury prevention, environmental health, and consumer health. This class meets the Health graduation requirement.
If you are thinking about taking a class for credit in a non-district school and applying that credit for graduation, check with your school. Your school must approve the course before you enroll to allow it to be applied towards graduation.
The principal may accept credits for high school graduation from a non-district public high school; or an accredited private school; or from a post-secondary institution providing non-college credit. Acceptance of such credit is limited to three credits for courses offered by the district high school. In addition, classes may also be accepted if the student is not able to take the class in his/her high school because of scheduling conflicts, or because the class is not available in his/her high school. To apply for out of district credit, fill out and submit this form before you enroll: Request for Acceptance of Out of District Credit
The professional judgment of the building principal or designee will determine whether a credit meets the district's standard for recognition and acceptance.
If high school has not gone smoothly for you for whatever reason, you may need to look into ways to catch up on your credits earned. Some of the options listed in this section, like online courses or outside courses, may be options you can use to get the credits you need to graduate.
In addition, summer school may be an option to take and pass courses you need for graduation.
Contact your counselor to discuss options for credit retrieval: don’t give up on graduation!