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Grand Canyon High School Diploma

Picture of high school male graduate holding a diplomaOverview
The Grand Canyon High School Diploma is a proficiency-based credential available to students on a voluntary basis beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year. The Grand Canyon High School Diploma is available to students at schools participating in the statewide Move On When Ready initiative.  Move On When Ready represents a departure from tradition, in which students advance based on "seat time" or how much time they spend in a classroom, and instead advance based on their mastery of the curriculum. Qualification for a Grand Canyon High School Diploma signifies to students that they are ready to do college-level work without remediation and opens up a variety of education and career pathways within and beyond high school. The Grand Canyon High School Diploma is provided for in Arizona law, which guarantees that, “Pupils who earn a Grand Canyon High School Diploma are entitled to all the rights and privileges of a person who graduates with a high school diploma” and that they will have “access to postsecondary scholarships and other forms of student financial aid and access to all forms of postsecondary education” (A.R.S. § 15-701.01(L)). 

How does it benefit students?
As a proficiency-based qualification, the Grand Canyon High School Diploma prepares students to engage successfully in any number of rigorous, academically-demanding upper-division pathways within and beyond high school. Students qualify for the Grand Canyon High School Diploma by demonstrating proficiency on internationally benchmarked exams and meeting qualification scores that have been set based on extensive research on the level of readiness required to be successful in initial credit-bearing courses at open-enrollment colleges, with special attention to ensuring that students have the mathematical and English literacy needed to be successful in all courses. Students, families, high schools, and institutes of higher education can have confidence that students who meet qualification scores on these valid and reliable assessments have demonstrated a foundational level of college readiness across core academic areas and are ready to engage in college-level work.
 
In addition to ensuring foundational college and career readiness for students, qualifying for a Grand Canyon High School Diploma increases flexibility for the remainder of the high school experience.  Because the Grand Canyon High School Diploma provides students the opportunity to achieve foundational college and career readiness after two or three years of high school, it frees students to make decisions about their continuing high school program of study based on their interests and their goals for future college study or career training.  This model moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach to high school and allows students to personalize their educational experience.
 
How do students qualify?
Students take a series of curriculum-based exams in core subjects during high school to measure their progress towards college and career readiness. The exams assess whether or not students have sufficiently mastered the core subjects they have studied. Once students have met the college and career qualification scores and/or completed required local course options in all core Grand Canyon High School Diploma content areas, they will qualify for the performance-based Grand Canyon High School Diploma. School districts or charter networks issue the Grand Canyon High School Diploma when a student meets the following subject area requirements within an aligned instructional system approved by the Arizona State Board of Education:
 
  • Two credits* of English
  • Two credits of mathematics
  • Two credits of science, including lab-based science, engineering, or information technologies
  • One credit of American History
  • One credit of World History
  • One credit for fine arts or career and technical education (CTE) (local)
  • One-half credit of economics (local)
 
*Note: Credits within the Move On When Ready model are performance-based.  Students fulfill credit requirements for the Grand Canyon High School Diploma by meeting the college readiness qualification scores on the end-of-course exams.

The Arizona State Board of Education adopted Move On When Ready college and career readiness qualification scores for English, mathematics, science, social studies, and fine arts courses in 2012 and 2013. The college and career readiness qualification scores vary by instructional system provider and content area. The Arizona State Board of Education has approved Cambridge International Examinations (IGCSE) courses as lower division college and career readiness programs of study for the Grand Canyon High School Diploma. 

Education Pathways Within and Beyond High School 
Once students qualify for a Grand Canyon High School Diploma, they are able to choose freely from many education options within and beyond high school, depending on what is available within their district or charter network and within their high school. These options include: 
 
  • Remain in high school and take an “upper division” program of demanding academic courses and exams, such as Advanced Placement, Cambridge AS/A Levels, or International Baccalaureate, that will prepare them for some of the most selective colleges in the world. 
  • Remain in high school and participate in programs of study already available through the home high school or district, such as dual enrollment courses or specialized STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs. 
  • Enroll in a full-time career and technical education program offered on a community college campus or a joint technical education district campus or any combination of these campuses. 
  • Graduate from high school with the Grand Canyon High School Diploma and go to community college.

For more information on the Grand Canyon High School Diploma, visit www.arizonafuture.org/mowr/grand-canyon-diploma.html