Out-of-District Credits and Credit Recovery
FAQ for Changes to Policy and Procedure 2024: Out-of-District Credits and Credit Recovery
Thank you for your interest in recently approved changes to Board Policy/Procedure 2024, Out-of-District Credits and Credit Recovery. All changes go into effect July 1 2019. The intent of the changes is to offer students a variety of options for earning credits that they need to graduate, while also ensuring that the options are rigorous.
It is important to note that Board Policy and Superintendent Procedure 2024 only address courses that students want to add to their Seattle Public Schools high school transcripts and apply towards graduation requirements.
Students are always free to take out-of-district courses without going through the approval process outlined in Superintendent Procedure 2024, and submit transcripts for those courses separately to the colleges where they may be applying. Please see below for answers to many questions that you may have about the changes.
- April 23, 2019: C&I Policy Committee reviewed the revised Board Action Report for this policy change and recommended that it be moved forward with a recommendation for approval by the full Board.
- May 1, 2019: Board Action Report introduction to full Board
- May 15, 2019: Board Action Report voted on and approved by full Board
- July 1, 2019: Approved changes to policy and procedure go into effect
Superintendent Procedure 2024SP, Online Learning, outlines the manner in which Seattle Public Schools allows students to take courses for high school credit via online learning opportunities. During the 2017-18 School Year, Seattle Public Schools’ Internal Auditors audited online learning at a selection of high schools across the district, and reviewed Superintendent Procedure 2024SP, and determined that the procedure should be clearer to promote consistency between schools. Specifically, they raised a concern that there was confusion about which forms and permissions were required for taking online courses for high school credit, and shared that concern with the Department of College and Career Readiness (CCR). CCR acknowledged their concerns, and decided to bring the issue to the High School Policy Work Group.
The High School Policy Work Group, consisting of high school principals, counselors, and academic intervention specialists, as well as central office staff, examined the Superintendent Procedure for Online Learning, and agreed that it was confusing, but also noted that it was out of date, and not in line with current practices at high schools. It was also inequitable in a number of ways. Work group members, with feedback from central staff and principals, discussed revisions at length, and drafted a revised procedure. The Department of College and Career Readiness then vetted that revised procedure with all high school principals, academic intervention specialists, counselors, the Department of Race and Equity, senior level staff, and board members. After finalizing the revised procedure, College and Career Readiness staff also revised the corresponding policy, with input from board members.
Questions and Answers
Q: Why has Superintendent Procedure 2024 been significantly reorganized and reformatted?
A: Superintendent Procedure 2024 has been divided into two sections, one for out-of-district credits for first time credit, and one for credit recovery for previously failed courses. This makes the procedure clearer and easier to understand for students, families, and school staff. The rules governing out-of-district courses for first time credits are very different from the rules governing credit recovery, and we want to make sure that there is no confusion about which rules apply to which credits.
Q: Why can’t students who take out-of-district courses for first time credit have letter grades for those courses added to their transcripts?
A: Out-of-district courses for first time credit will only be added to Seattle Public Schools transcripts with pass/no pass credit rather than letter grades. This ensures that student GPAs are not pulled up or down by out-of-district coursework, and makes GPA calculations more equitable for all students. Note that if students earn high grades on these courses and want colleges where they are applying to know, they are always free to submit those grades separately.
Q: How will principals decide which out-of-district course requests to approve?
A: A decision tree has been created for out-of-district course approval. Principals will use this decision tree when determining whether or not to approve out-of-district courses for addition to Seattle Public Schools transcripts. Per the decision tree, principals will approve requests for courses with approved providers if students need the courses to graduate and cannot take the courses at their high school. Special consideration will be made for requests that do not meet that criteria if students need the out-of-district courses in order to access college preparatory courses during their junior or senior year. This decision tree ensures equity across the district for students who attend different schools. As a reminder, students are always free to take any courses with any providers, but they need approval to have credit for those courses added to their Seattle Public Schools transcripts.
Q: What appeals or exceptions are available?
A: The following exceptions/appeals are available:
- Students are limited to 4 online credits (8 courses) for first time credit. However, students facing extenuating circumstances may receive permission to take additional classes online.
- Students are expected to take out-of-district courses with approved colleges or high schools within Washington State, or with online provides approved by the The division of state government in Washington charged with administering public schools (OSPI). However, students may appeal to take a course with a different provider if a particular course is not available in state or with an OSPI approved provider.
- Students are expected to take courses at their high schools if the courses are available. However, students in the classes of 2020-2023 may appeal to take available courses out-of-district if they have already planned high school courses of study that do not leave room for the courses in question.
- Again, students are expected to take courses at their high schools if the courses are available, but students facing extenuating circumstances that necessitate them missing one or more periods of the school day throughout a marking period may appeal to take out-of-district classes.
- Exceptions may apply for students with individual education plans (IEPs) or 504 plans. Please see questions 17 and 21 below for more information.
Q: Why can’t middle school students take out-of-district courses for addition to their future high school transcripts?
A: Out-of-district courses will not be approved for middle school students. Principals in particular asked for this change because often, when middle school students take out-of-district courses, they are not adequately prepared academically for the courses they take in high school. This negatively impacts the learning experience of that student and other students in the classroom. In addition, it should be noted that there are other ways for students to earn high school credits while in middle school through their school’s offerings. Note that students will be permitted to take out-of-district courses with district approved programs like LEEP the summer before 9th grade.
Q: Why are you changing the number of online courses that a student may take for high school credit?
A: Under the current Superintendent’s Procedure, students are allowed to take up to 8 online credits, including first time credit and credit recovery. Under the revised procedure, this is increased to 4 online credits for first time courses and 8 online credits for credit recovery. The purpose of these changes is to provide maximum flexibility to students who need to recover credits for courses that they previously attempted at their high schools, and to provide sufficient opportunities for students who need to take online courses for first time credit. Note that most courses are 0.5 credits, so students could take up to 8 online courses for first time credit, one every semester. We consider this a to be a fair number of credits, more than 15% of all required credits. Also note that this limit applies to online courses only. We are not specifically limiting the number of out-of-district in person courses that a student may take at colleges like University of Washington. However, all requests for out-of-district courses are subject to approval via the decision tree.
Q: In the context of the new 24 credit graduation requirement, why are you limiting the use of out-of-district credits?
A: Students will be allowed to take out-of-district courses if the courses that they need to meet the 24 credit graduation requirement are not available at their high schools. No student will be prevented from graduating on time because they are not allowed to take out-of-district courses.
Q: How are you preparing students to meet the 24 credit graduation requirement? How are you supporting struggling students?
A: All high schools received funding this year to help students stay on track to earn 6 credits per year, and to recover credits if they do fail courses. Schools are receiving this funding for the 2019-20 school year as well. One way to recover credits is to take online credit recovery classes, but students also have access to summer school, and may repeat classes during the school year if necessary. Schools are taking a number of different approaches to supporting their struggling students, everything from hiring more academic intervention specialists and counselors to bringing in community based organizations to provide tutoring services. Additionally, schools received funding to provide their teachers with professional development, and the district will continue to fund professional development for 2019-20. The professional development is intended to help teachers improve rigor and engagement in the classroom, so that more students can meet the 24 credit graduation requirement without having to take credit recovery coursework.
Q: Why can’t students take out-of-district courses at any accredited college or university and have credit from those coursed added to their Seattle Public Schools transcripts?
A: We are legally bound by The regulations of executive branch agencies for Washington state. (WAC) 392-410-310, Equivalency course of study- Credit for correspondence courses, electronically mediated courses, and college courses. This WAC stipulates that school districts can only offer high school credits for college courses taken with the following:
- Schools that are members of the National University Continuing Education Association or accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council;
- Community colleges, technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and approved private schools in Washington state; and
- Other schools or institutions, including electronically mediated schools or programs, which are approved, after evaluation of a particular course offering, by the school district.
However, this WAC has not been updated in many years, and neither the National University Continuing Education Association nor the Distance Education and Training Council are still operating. As Seattle Public Schools cannot vet the coursework at every educational institution where a student might want to take a course, per item 3 above, the district must rely on the state government’s accreditation and approval processes for in-state schools, and only accept credits from those institutions. However, explained in a question above, there will be an appeals process for students who want to take a particular class that is not offered in-state or with an OSPI approved online provider.
Q: Where can students take out-of-district credits, aside from colleges in Washington State?
A: Students can also take courses with OSPI approved online providers, private schools in Washington, and public high schools and online schools in Washington school districts.
Q: What equity analysis has been done on these proposed changes?
A: College and Career Readiness (CCR) staff met with staff from the Department of Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial and Advancement to share proposed changes and ask for support with analyzing those changes using the district’s The Racial Equity Analysis Tool lays out a clear process and a. Following that meeting, CCR staff completed the Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial analysis. The analysis confirmed that the High School Policy Work Group approached the revisions with an equity lens, and recommended revisions that would lead to more equitable outcomes for students. Please see below for details of the equity analysis.
Step 1 of SPS’s Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial Tool asks department leadership to define equitable outcomes and engage Those student, families and community groups impacted by proposed policy, program or. In the context of this work, equitable outcomes means every student in every high school having the same opportunity to take out-of-district courses. Through the process of engaging Those student, families and community groups impacted by proposed policy, program or, particularly principals, district staff learned that at some schools, permission to take out-of-district courses is widely granted, and at other schools, it is not. Student of color are concentrated in certain high schools, so that means that without a district-wide policy and procedure on when to approve out-of-district credits, there will be racial disparities. These revisions provide that district-wide policy and procedure, and thus will increase racially equitable outcomes.
Furthermore, under the current procedure, when a student takes an out-of-district course, the letter grade the student receives counts towards his or her GPA. The student can “shop around” for a course that is known to be easy, instead of taking the course through Seattle Public Schools. This is inequitable, because students who are at high schools where principals do not approve out-of-district credits, and students who cannot afford to pay for out-of-district courses, do not have this option for boosting their GPAs. In the revised procedure, out-of-district courses will not be used for GPA calculations, and this is more equitable.
Step 2 of the Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial Tool asks Those student, families and community groups impacted by proposed policy, program or to engage in analyzing data. As part of this process, CCR staff collected and analyzed data on online course-taking for credit recovery and out-of-district credit. We will continue to track the data after the proposed changes go into effect, to ensure that the changes have the intended effect of giving students equitable access to out-of-district courses. We will also work with the Department of Technology Services to refine data collection processes so that we can do a more fine-tuned analysis going forward.
Step 3 of the Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial Tool asks Those student, families and community groups impacted by proposed policy, program or to analyze how the proposed changes will increase or decrease Providing equitable access to opportunities, resources and support for each and every. CCR staff strongly believe that our proposed changes will increase Providing equitable access to opportunities, resources and support for each and every for the reasons described in Step 1 above. However, we acknowledge that out-of-district credits are not free, and that even if the procedure is implemented with fidelity and all students receive permission to take out-of-district courses in a uniform way, some students have families who can pay for these courses, and other do not. For that reason, we will continue to advocate for increased funding to high schools, so that every student can take a rigorous and robust selection of courses for free at their own public high schools.
Step 4 of the Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial Tool asks Those student, families and community groups impacted by proposed policy, program or to identify ongoing measures of success or mitigation plans for negative impacts. As mentioned in Step 2 above, we plan to continue to monitor data on students accessing out-of-district credits and credit recovery. If we find large disparities across schools, we will work with principals to ensure that they understand how to apply the new procedure. We will also revisit our appeals process if we find that students from particular socio-economic groups are more likely to appeal, and are thus using more district resources in the form of staff time to review the appeals.
Q: Who pays for out-of-district courses for first time credit?
A: Families are expected to pay for out-of-district courses for first time credit. Seattle Public Schools is not responsible for costs or fees. In special circumstances, a school may pay for costs and fees if funding is available, pending approval by the Department of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction. This is not a change from the previous policy/procedure.
Q: Who pays for credit recovery courses, including online credit recovery courses.
A: Courses offered to students for which the district claims state education funding or that are included as part of the legally required annual minimum instructional hour offering will be paid for by the district. These are courses that are considered part of a school’s master schedule or are otherwise courses offered by the district or by the individual school. Students/families may be responsible for fees as specified by School Board Policy 3520, Board Procedure 3520BP, and Superintendent Procedure 3520SP. Courses offered to students for which the district claims no state education funding and that are not included as part of the legally required annual minimum instructional hour offering will be paid for by the students/families, including any course fees. Generally, schools contract with an OSPI approved online course provider for online credit recovery courses for their students, and the school pays for those courses. This is not a change from the previous policy/procedure. The district pays for credit recovery through summer school.
Q: Will there be any fiscal impact on Seattle Public Schools as a result of these changes?
A: The changes to Board Policy/Superintendent Procedure 2024 will not cost Seattle Public Schools any additional money. As noted above, Seattle Public Schools already pays for most credit recovery options, via online credit recovery or summer school, and will continue to do so as funding allows. That said, Seattle Public Schools is interested in reviewing courses offered by OSPI approved online providers, and there would be significant costs associated with that work. Available budget and staff capacity will determine the scope and feasibility of reviewing courses. Additionally, Seattle Public Schools has been providing funding for students to take world language assessments in order to earn world language credits, and will continue to do so as funding allows. Please see the question below on world languages for more information about taking out-of-district world language courses and/or the world language assessments.
Q: How will this impact my student who attends an Alternative Learning Experience (Alternative Learning Experience occurs in whole or in part independent from the) school?
A: Every student enrolled in an Alternative Learning Experience occurs in whole or in part independent from the school has an individualized learning plan designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs. If the plan calls for the student to take particular out-of-district courses and/or credit recovery courses, the student will be permitted to do so.
Q: How will this impact my student who has an Individual Education Plan?
A: We have consulted with the Special Education Department regarding these revisions, and staff have confirmed that there will not be a negative impact on students receiving special education services. Students with individual education plans only take online classes for first time credit under rare circumstances (best practice is generally to provide students with in-person highly qualified instructors who can offer real time support and feedback), and they will not be blocked from doing so under this revised procedure. Students who receive special education services are general education students first, and all students will be able to access out-of-district credits for first time credit if they are unable to take the courses they need at their schools. In addition if taking a particular class out-of-district is part of a student’s IEP, the student will be permitted to take the class for a letter grade. To summarize, the needs of students who receive special education services have been considered throughout this process, and they will not be blocked from taking the out-of-district courses that meet their needs.
Q: How will this impact students who want to take world language courses not offered by Seattle Public Schools high schools?
- If the language they want to take is available with an approved provider, they can request approval from their principal to take the courses and have the credit added to their high school transcripts. They can also appeal to take the course with a non-approved provider if the course is not available with an approved provider.
- If they prefer, students may earn competency credit. Seattle Public Schools provides for students to earn competency-based high school credits for world languages by taking an assessment and demonstrating proficiency in their language of choice. Students can earn up to 4 credits by demonstrating proficiency at the “Intermediate High” level, and can earn the 2 credits required for graduation by demonstrating proficiency at the “Novice High” level. For more information, please refer to Superintendent Procedure 2409SP, Competency/Proficiency High School Credit for World Languages.
Q: How will changes to this procedure impact A recognized alternative course offered by colleges made available to high school students?
A: Dual credit programs like A recognized alternative course offered by colleges made available to high school and College in the High School will not be impacted in any way. These programs are considered in-district, and the rules in the Superintendent Procedure 2024 do not apply.
Q: My child already has permission to take an out-of-district class this summer or next fall, or is planning to get permission before the last day of school. What happens now?
A: Changes do not go into effect until July 1, 2019. If your child receives permission prior to July 1 to take an out-of-district class, that permission will be honored. Your child will be able to take the class and have it added to the high school transcript as a letter grade. Any requests made starting July 1 are subject to the rules and decision-making process outlined in the revised procedure.
Q: How will this impact my student who has a A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to?
A: Based on consultation with the 504/ADA Department, Superintendent Procedure 2024 will work in conjunction with a student’s A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to, with the provisions (i.e. modifications and/or accommodations) detailed in the A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to being reviewed first when determining whether credit and a grade will be granted for out-of-district courses. Note that a request for out-of-district credit/grade to be included in a student’s A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to must be discussed as a part of the 504 Team process. Through this process, families and school staff will work together to create or update a student’s A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to as appropriate for the student and the school setting. Out-of-district courses that are added to a A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to must be approved in advance through the 504 Team based at the student’s school. Students will be eligible to earn letter grades for these courses.
If a student wants to earn credit for an out-of-district course that is not detailed as a modification or accommodation in the A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to, the student must request permission via the Equivalency of Study for First Time Credit Form. If the request is approved, the student will earn credit for the course, but not a letter grade. Please contact your school’s 504 building coordinator if you have any questions.
Q: How do other nearby districts address out-of-district credits for first time credit?
A: Like Seattle Public Schools, other districts have policies and procedures for students wishing to take out of district credits for first time credit, and require students to get prior approval for any out-of-district courses they want added to their high school transcripts.
Do students receive letter grades?
Seattle Public Schools (under proposed changes)
No, students receive credit only, no letter grade
Bellevue School District
No, students will receive credit only, no letter grade
Lake Washington School District
Principal or designee
Students receive letter grades
Up to 3 credits may be taken through high schools in other districts (exceptions apply)
Mercer Island School District
No, students will receive credit only, no letter grade
June 2019 Family Communication
The Department of Teaching and Learning would like to announce changes to Board Policy 2024, Out-of-District Credits and Credit Recovery, and the corresponding Superintendent’s Procedure. Policy and procedure changes will go into effect July 1, 2019. Changes to the policy and procedure were called for by school staff, parents, and board members, who wanted clear and consistent guidance from the district on how to treat out-of-district credits and credit recovery.
These revisions will provide that clarity and consistency across our middle and high schools, and will contribute to a more equitable high school experience for our students. The changes are intended to provide students with flexibility to take the courses they need to graduate, while also ensuring that students are encouraged to take rigorous in-district courses taught by Seattle Public Schools educators.
Although the policy and procedure cover both out-of-district courses for first time credit and credit recovery, most of the changes impact out-of-district courses for first time credit only. Students planning to take credit recovery for previously attempted courses will be minimally impacted by the changes.
Please read below for information about out-of-district credits and credit recovery, and how changes to the policy and procedure may impact your child. In addition, please contact the district’s College and Career Readiness team if you have questions that are not addressed below by emailing CCR@seattleschools.org.
What is an out-of-district credit?
An out-of-district credit is a credit that a student earns outside of Seattle Public Schools while actively enrolled at Seattle Public Schools. Out-of-district courses include courses taken at private schools, public schools in other districts, online providers, and colleges and universities. Students are always free to take out-of-district courses without permission; credit for those courses will not be added to high school transcripts, but students can choose to independently submit those credits to any colleges or post-secondary programs to which they are applying. If students want to add out-of-district credits to their Seattle Public Schools high school transcripts, they will need to receive approval from their high school in advance. Note that dual credit programs like A recognized alternative course offered by colleges made available to high school and College in the High School are considered in-district credits.
What is changing about the process for taking out-of-district credits for first time credit and having them added to high school transcripts?
- This option will be open to high school students only. Middle school students will no longer be eligible. For the purposes of this procedure, students entering 9th grade will be considered high school students when their academic records are transferred to their high school.
- Out-of-District courses will be added to transcripts as pass/no pass only. Letter grades will not be recorded.
- Students will be limited to 4 out-of-district online credits (appeal available). This limit does not apply to in-person classes, for example classes taken at University of Washington.
- Students may take out-of-district courses with approved providers only (appeal available). Approved providers include:
- Online providers approved by the The division of state government in Washington charged with administering public schools
- Accredited community colleges, technical colleges and universities in Washington State
- Private schools in Washington State
- High schools or online schools in a school district in Washington State
- Principals at all high schools will use a decision tree for out-of-district credits when determining whether or not to approve requests. Principals will approve requests when the requested course can be used to meet a graduation requirement and:
- The course is either not offered at the high school, or is offered but full (appeal available). OR
- The course would help the student get on track to access college preparatory classes during junior or senior year of high school.
What appeals are available for out-of-district courses for first time credit?
- Students facing extenuating circumstances may request permission to take more than 4 credits online.
- If a particular course is not available with an approved provider, students may request permission to take the course with a non-approved provider. Student/family would need to provide course materials for district review.
- Students may request to take a particular course out-of-district even if the course is available at their school if:
- Student is in the class of 2020-2023 and has already planned a high school course of study that does not leave room for the course in question. OR
- Extenuating circumstances necessitate the student missing one on more periods of the school day throughout a marking period.
Your school will provide you with guidance on how to submit an appeal.
What is changing about the process for taking credit recovery for previously attempted courses?
Students will still be able to access credit recovery through their school or district offerings. However, students who want to take out-of-district credit recovery will only be permitted to do so if Seattle Public Schools is not able to provide the course and it is needed for graduation purposes. Otherwise, the process is unchanged. The letter grade earned in the credit recovery course will be added to the student’s high school transcript, and the previous “E” grade will remain on the transcript. Only the higher grade will be used in GPA calculations.
Other Frequently Asked Questions about situations:
Q : My child already has permission to take an out-of-district class this summer or next fall, or is planning to get permission before the last day of school. What happens now?
- A: Changes do not go into effect until July 1, 2019. If your child receives permission prior to July 1 to take an out-of-district class, that permission will be honored. Your child will be able to take the class and have it added to the high school transcript as a letter grade. Any requests made starting July 1st are subject to the rules and decision-making process described above.
Q: How will this impact my child with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to?
- A: Students with IEPs or 504 Plans will not be negatively impacted. If a student’s IEP or A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to calls for taking a particular class out-of-district, either for first time credit or credit recovery, that student will be permitted to do so. Please see questions 17 and 21 in the FAQ for more information.
Q: How will this impact my student who attends an Alternative Learning Experience (Alternative Learning Experience occurs in whole or in part independent from the) school?
- A: Every student enrolled in an Alternative Learning Experience occurs in whole or in part independent from the school has an individualized learning plan designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs. If the plan calls for the student to take particular out-of-district courses and/or credit recovery courses, the student will be permitted to do so.
Q: My child is signed up for Upward Bound or LEEP. Is it still possible to earn credit for those programs?
- A: Yes, students will receive high school credit for successfully completing district approved educational programs like LEEP or Upward Bound. Prior permission to take these courses and have the credits added to high school transcripts is not required.
Q: Where can I find additional information about these changes?
- A: To access more resources related to this policy:
- The Board Action Report that was presented to the School Board. It includes a detailed explanation of the rationale for all of these revisions, an equity analysis, and much more. It also includes the full text of the newly revised Policy and Procedure.
- You can read the revised policy and procedure on the School Board website.
Additional questions may be directed to the Department of College and Career Readiness at CCR@seattleschools.org.