More Ways to Graduation

    Several different options are available for students who are looking for more ways to meet graduation requirements. 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

    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.

    Students enrolled in Signature Courses or Signature Programs:
    • 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.
    The Tesla STEM High School Signature programs available to 11th graders are:
    • Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Design
    • Forensics/Psychology
    The Tesla STEM High School Signature programs available to 12th graders are:
    • Biomedical Engineering
    • Advanced Physics/Global Engineering

    Due to student capacity and space limitations, there are a limited number of openings in each of the school’s Signature Programs for eleventh and twelfth grade students who attend one of the district’s comprehensive high schools. If more students apply for each lab than space is available, 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. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the TESLA STEM High School.

    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 Programs

    WANIC Skills Center ( 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.

    Running Start (taking courses at community colleges)

    Seniors and Juniors who qualify may enroll in college level courses at local participating community and technical colleges. The courses taken will earn high school credit and college credit at some state colleges and universities. The Lake Washington School District pays the college tuition for a specified number of credits taken. Students are responsible for all fees, books and transportation.
    Students interested in Running Start must:
    • 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. For juniors in the Lake Washington School District, this includes completion of 10th grade required course sequence, and meeting state test graduation requirements. For seniors this includes satisfactory completion of 11th grade course sequences.
    • Meet all LWSD graduation requirements through course work in the high school or through Running Start.
    Students must apply in March to attend Running Start courses in the fall.

    College in the High School

    Through the University of Washington in the High School Program (UWHS), students complete and earn UW credit in their own classrooms and with their own teachers. Students and teachers use UW curriculum, activities, texts, tests and grading scales. Students earn a final grade over time; a grade does not depend on one exam. Students receive recognition for their UW work at most public institutions and many private ones as well. There is a fee for earning credits in these courses, but it is reduced over the cost of taking equivalent courses at UW.
    Currently, four high schools in LWSD offer “College in the High School” programs. Eastlake High School, Juanita High School, Lake Washington High School and Redmond High School work with the University of Washington (UW) to offer college level courses at each high school campus.
    Course offered vary by school, but can include: Comparative literature, English composition, History, Informatics and Computing, Math, Psychology, Science and World Languages.

    CTE Equivalency Courses/"Two for One" Courses

    Some CTE courses help students meet core academic graduation requirements. If a CTE course is determined to be fully equivalent with academic standards of the core requirement, it can be recorded on a student’s transcript using equivalent academic high school designation and title. If a CTE course has designated equivalency, credit for one of the courses will be placed on the student’s transcript. Students generally choose which course they want placed on the transcript, and this choice is driven by their High School and Beyond Plan. The second course, which is not placed on the transcript, may be “checked off” as a “met requirement” by local counseling staff. Which course is put on the transcript and which one is “checked off” is determined by the student, based on their post high school goals as outlined in the High School and Beyond Plan.

    CTE Equivalency Courses can be identified by their course code in the CTE section of each school’s course catalog.

    The table below shows course codes by subject area:

    CTE course code Core requirement met
    ARO Art
    DRO Art
    ELO Elective
    FOO World Language
    HEO Health
    MAO Math
    PEO Fitness
    SCO Science
    SOO Social Studies

    In addition, students may meet the CTE requirement through a non-CTE course that is determined to be “occupational education,” and equivalent, at a minimum, to a CTE exploratory course. Students who earn a graduation requirement credit in a non-CTE course determined to be equivalent to a CTE course will not be required to earn a second credit in the CTE course subject. The single non-CTE course meets two graduation requirements.

    The CTE Equivalency/“Two-for-One” policy does not change the total number of credits the student needs to graduate.

    LWSD Online Courses

    The Lake Washington School District offers two online courses - Washington State History and Health. Students may enroll in these district online courses if they meet one of the following criteria:
    • 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 skills 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.

    Outside credit

    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.

    Credit retrieval

    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!