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High School

Everything parents and students need to know about high school.

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This section has been prepared for families with high school students with the hope that, through a better understanding of the Columbia Virtual Academy (CVA) high school program, your academic experience will prove more enjoyable and successful.

Courses taken through CVA meet rigorous national and state standards and are suitable to meet Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and Washington State Graduation requirements. We make every effort to ensure quality courses and quality learning. Please let us know if a course of study is not meeting your student’s needs or expectations. Improvement of our course content and offerings is a continuous effort within CVA.

CVA High School teachers and staff will work closely with students and their families to ensure the highest expectations appropriate to the student’s unique goals and circumstances. Such personalization will likely include additional courses, credits, or learning experiences beyond the state minimums.

Transition to High School and Beyond

Transition to High School and Beyond

Transitioning to high school for many students and parents can be like moving from Earth to another planet. High School has a different set of requirements and expectations and families must plan for this transition just as they would plan for life after high school.

This guide is intended to help students navigate this new world and begin planning. It is important to know that students must fulfill the graduation requirements that are in place when they first enter ninth grade.

Requirements to earn a high school diploma

To earn a diploma in Washington State, students must meet graduation requirements:

  • Earn high school credits taking core and elective courses
  • Pass state tests or an approved Graduation Pathway Option
  • Complete a High School and Beyond Plan

Courses – what subjects will you have to take?

A variety of courses are required for graduation in the areas of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, the Arts, Health and Fitness, Career and Technical Education, and Electives. Graduation requirements depend on when students enter the ninth grade. The World Language requirement can be waived with Personal Pathway credits, but this is an entrance requirement for most colleges and universities. 

Washington State History is a required course for graduation, so students who do not complete this course in middle school will need to take it in high school. Successful completion of a Washington State History course is noted on high school transcripts.

All CVA high school courses are online. We encourage middle school students to enroll in one or more online courses during their seventh and eighth grades to gain valuable experience with online courses. Even if students don't plan to attend CVA during their high school years, many high schools (and now colleges) require students to take a series of online courses. 

Requirements and Credits

CVA offers one-semester and two-semester online courses. Students earn credits toward graduation based on the completion of each course. Students earn one-half credit for one-semester courses and one credit for two-semester courses that are completed with a passing grade. Students can earn one-half credit for two-semester courses depending on how far they were when the course ended, but students will still need to earn the required overall credit. One-semester courses that take longer than one semester to complete are still only worth one-half credit.

CVA requires the state minimum number of credits for graduation, but students are advised to maximize credits earned based on plans after high school. School districts can set graduation credit requirements beyond the state minimum, so students who transfer from CVA to another public school will need to inquire about graduation requirements to determine how many credits are required to earn a diploma in that school district.

Washington State Minimum Credit Requirements

The following chart shows the state-required minimum number of credits students need, by year of expected graduation (also known as “Class.”) A student’s Class is determined by the year he or she enters 9th grade. For example, a student who enters 9th grade in the fall of 2021 is the “Class of 2025.”


See more information here about WA State Graduation Requirements.


State Assessments

One of the pathways students can use to demonstrate post-secondary career or college readiness is passing the state assessments.



See more information here about State Testing.


Alternative Pathways to State Testing

CVA offers two alternative pathways to state testing requirements. 

High School and Beyond Plan

The High School and Beyond Plan is a graduation requirement. This document is designed to help students think about their future and choose coursework that prepares them for their goals after high school.

Students can begin developing the plan in middle school by working with their parents and school staff to create a High School and Beyond Plan that is based on their own Personalized Pathway Requirement. Students continue to revise plans each year throughout high school as interests or goals change.

Selecting Courses in High School

Student plans following high school should be a primary consideration for determining the academic rigor of high school courses. Students who are furthering their education at the college or university level can expect admission officers to view their high school course schedule as a blueprint of the student's education. They are looking for a solid foundation of learning that students can build on in college.

To create a good foundation, students should take at least six solid academic classes every year. Starting with the basics in the freshman and sophomore years and moving to more advanced courses in the junior and senior years.

The following recommendations are standard for success in high school and beyond, whether students plan to attend a four-year or two-year college.

English (Language Arts)

Students need English classes every year. Traditional courses, such as American and English literature, help improve writing skills, reading comprehension, and vocabulary.


Students need algebra and geometry for college entrance exams, college math classes and for many careers. Students should take these classes early so there is time to enroll in advanced science and math classes to demonstrate readiness for college-level work.

Most colleges look for students who have taken three years of math in high school. More competitive institutions require or recommend four years of math. Some of the courses offered are:

  • Algebra I
  • Algebra II
  • Geometry
  • Personal Finance
  • Trigonometry
  • Calculus


Science teaches students to think analytically and apply theories to reality. Colleges want to see that students have taken two to three years of laboratory science classes. A good combination includes two semesters of each of the following sciences:

  • Physical science
  • Earth/Space science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry or physics

Social Studies

Students will better understand local and world events by studying the culture and history that has shaped them. Here is a suggested course plan:

  • U.S. history
  • U.S. government
  • Civics
  • Current World Issues

Foreign Languages

A solid foreign language study shows colleges that students are willing to stretch beyond the basics. Many colleges require at least two years of study in the same foreign language, and some prefer more. CVA offers Spanish.

The Arts

Research indicates that students who participate in the arts often do better in school and on standardized tests. The arts help students recognize patterns, discern differences and similarities, and exercise the mind in unique ways, often outside a traditional classroom setting. Two art credits are required but one credit can be replaced with a Personal Pathway credit.

Career and Technical Education

Career and Technical Education (CTE) gives high school students an opportunity to get a head start on preparing for college and careers through computer science courses along with business, culinary arts, and workplace experience.


Electives are courses of your choice beyond the required credits in course areas to fulfill the total credit requirements for graduation.

Graduation Toolkit 

A valuable resource for you is the Graduation Toolkit developed by the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction:

College Planning Resources

It is never too early to begin planning for college. A valuable year-by-year guide for students and parents to prepare for college can be found at

Graduation Requirements

High School and Beyond Plan

High School and Beyond Plan

Completing the final years of K-12 education is an exciting time, but it can also be confusing and overwhelming. High School and Beyond Plans are designed to get students started on a personalized path that will help them get the most out of their high school experience and help them prepare for life beyond high school. 8th-grade students will start a High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP), which is a document that will be revised and personalized as students move through high school. A completed HSBP is a graduation requirement in the State of Washington.

The HSPB is more than just a list of classes and a graduation “hoop” to get through. It is also a great planning tool that can help students determine the best path to get where they want to go. It basically helps students answer three questions: Who am I? What can I become? and How do I become that? This plan will help students reflect on their future and get the most out of high school. 

Homeroom teachers and/or a school counselor will work with students to create their personalized path to graduation and beyond. Students don’t need to have answers to all their questions or crystal-clear goals as students will review and revise their plan at least annually to accommodate any changing interests or goals. High School and Beyond Plans are a “living document” that can grow and change with students.

What is the High School & Beyond Plan?

My High School & Beyond Plan Student Handout


Credit Requirements

Credit Requirements

Students earn high school credits by successfully completing high school level courses. All CVA high school courses are provided online, except for Creative Art. To secure credit for Creative Art coursework through CVA, the student must submit lesson work samples with the guidance of the student’s CVA teacher into the Learning Management System, Buzz. 

CVA offers text-based curriculum for Algebra I that is only available for middle school students. Credit earned for Algebra I can be transferred as high school credits upon successful completion of the course that is verified by work samples of daily assignments, quizzes, and mid-term and final exams submitted to Buzz, as guided by the student’s CVA teacher.

For a full description of Washington State credit requirements, click here.




Final grades are issued at the end of each year. Computation of student grades shall include, but not be limited to: curriculum completion, online coursework, two-way communications and, for applicable classes, the portfolio requirements. 

A    =  4.0

A-   =  3.7

B+  =  3.3

B    =  3.0

B-   =  2.7

C+ =  2.3 

C   =  2.0

C-  =  1.7

D+ =  1.3

D   =  1.0

The minimum passing mark will be a D. Grade point averages and Honor Roll will be based on a point range from 4.0 (A) to 1.0 (D).

Senior Year Transfer and Credit

Senior Year Transfer and Credit

Students who enroll in CVA after the start of their senior year are eligible to transfer credits from accredited high school programs. However, they must complete at least two (2) full credits with CVA before being eligible to earn a diploma.

High School Transcripts

High School Transcripts

All high school students receive a transcript detailing the courses taken and the grades/GPA and credits earned for each of those classes during high school. The transcript is always the primary document requested to verify the completion of high school—rarely is the actual diploma requested. 

Advantages of receiving a graded transcript and a GPA:

  • Required for college entrance for private and out-of-state colleges and universities
  • College scholarship applications require a transcript and GPA
  • Credits and grades transfer to any public or private high school
  • Military recruiters and sometimes employers require a transcript
  • Auto insurance companies give rate reductions for meeting a specific GPA
  • Transfers credits to any other high school should you leave CVA
  • Contact your CVA teacher or CVA counselor to request a copy of your transcript

Middle School Students Taking High School Courses

Middle School Students Taking High School Courses

Middle school students may enroll in certain high-school courses under the following conditions:

  • The high-school course is offered by a CVA middle school and there is enrollment capacity; and
  • The student is academically ready to take the high school level course.

For school years prior to 2019-20:

All high school academic level credits, taken prior to high school, can be used, if certain conditions are met.  The family or student must request the courses to be added to the high school transcript (giving the student high school credit) regardless of the letter grade the student earned in the course. Even if the course is a state graduation requirement (i.e., WSH), courses taken prior to 2019-20 are not automatically included on the high school transcript. Courses taken prior to the 2019-20 school year cannot be removed once placed on the transcript. 

Beginning with the 2019-20 school year:

RCW 28A.230.090(4)(a)(b) and WAC 180-51-030 require that all high school rigor courses taken and passed by students in grades 7 and 8, be awarded high school credit and placed on the high school transcript.  The credits can be removed if requested by the student or parent/guardian prior to the end of the student’s grade 11 school year.  District policy will determine the procedure for requesting the removal of these credits. At the request of the student or parent/guardian, credits that are to remain on the high school transcript may be transcribed with a non-numerical grade, e.g., Pass or Credit.  The non-numerical grade is not included in GPA calculation, but the credit will apply to fulfilling graduation requirements.  The grade can be changed to a non-numerical value if requested by the student or parent/guardian prior to the end of the student’s grade 11 school year. 

Washington State History (WSH)/Pacific Northwest (PNW) courses taken in grades 7 or 8:

If the Washington State History (WSH)/Pacific Northwest (PNW) course is at a middle school academic level, then it is not listed with the other courses in the Academic Record section of the transcript; however, since it is a state graduation requirement, a “Met” designation is noted under the “Additional State Requirements” section. CVA offers this course as a middle school academic level course.


Reference: WAC 180-51-050 High school credit – definition, RCW 28A.230.090 High school graduation requirements or equivalencies — High school and beyond plans — Career and college graduation requirements — Reevaluation of graduation requirements — Language requirements — Credit for courses taken before attending high school — Postsecondary credit equivalencies, WAC 392-415-070 Mandatory high school transcript contents — Items — Timelines and; WAC 180-51030 High school credit for courses taken before attending high school.

Students Not Graduating After Four Years of High School

Students Not Graduating After Four Years of High School

Students who have not met their high school graduation requirements and have not earned a regular high school diploma are eligible for a free public education through the school year in which the student turns 21 years of age.

Withholding a Diploma and/or Transcript

Withholding a Diploma and/or Transcript


A student’s grades, diploma, and/or transcript may be withheld until the student pays any fees or fines for school property that has been lost or willfully damaged (equipment, books, etc.). Upon the payment of the fees or fines, or the equivalency through volunteer work, the grades, diploma, and/or transcript will be released. The student or his/her parent or guardian shall be notified regarding the nature of the violation or damage, how restitution may be made, and how an appeal may be instituted.

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