Washington high school students could soon earn credit for paid work experience

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington students could soon earn credits toward their high school diploma through paid work experience. 

Nearly 30 percent of students across the state are employed in high school.

On Thursday, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced a plan that would allow students ages 16 and up to earn elective credits through paid work verified by their school. 

“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.

Currently, Washington students must earn 17 credits in core subjects and four credits in elective subjects. Under Reykdal’s plans, students could earn credits at a rate of one elective credit for 360 hours worked or 0.5 credits for 180 hours worked. 

Students will be allowed to earn up to four elective credits through work experience, but no more than two of those may be earned in a year. 

A release from Reykdal’s office says providing students the ability to earn elective credits for their efforts at work further honors the different pathways that students choose for themselves. It also recognizes the knowledge, skills and abilities students acquire through paid employment. 

“Helping equip the next generation to succeed in the workforce is critically important for the health of our families, our communities and our economy,” said Dave Mastin, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Association of Washington Business. “Giving students the opportunity to earn elective credits for their after-school and summer jobs validates the important role that work plays in their growth and development, and will hopefully encourage more young people to get a start on acquiring the important life skills that are gained through work experience.”

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will initiate rulemaking for this proposal and aim to have it in place by the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. 

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