High schoolers can now earn credit for after-school work experience, following Superintendent Reykdal’s announcement

High school students aged 16 and older can now earn elective credits toward their diploma through paid work experience, the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced.

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced this decision Thursday during a media briefing with the intention to roll out the program in time for the 2023-24 school year.

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“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.

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.

“Students are essentially going to sign up for this like they would any class,” Reykdal said.

In order to receive a high school diploma, students in Washington must earn 17 credits in core subjects, seven additional credits in elective subjects, complete a graduation pathway, and meet personalized pathway requirements.

“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.

Reykdal made sure to clarify all after-school jobs are eligible to count toward this program.

“It isn’t that we’re going to allow some employers to do it and not others, this is to honor all work: manufacturing, retail, food services,” Reykdal said.

OSPI is officially initiating the rule-making process within the next two months.

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