Earning Your District of Columbia High School Diploma!

Earning a high school diploma can be a student's first step to starting a new career or advancing his or her education. The District of Columbia offers several alternatives for students who didn't earn their high school diplomas through the traditional high school system.

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Earning a High School Diploma in the District of Columbia

District of Columbia students who didn't earn their high school diplomas can participate in the National External Diploma Program (NEDP) or earn their General Educational Development (GED) credential. The District of Columbia also offers English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes.

High School Graduation Requirements

The District of Columbia requires its high school students to earn at least 24 credits in order to graduate. These are broken down into four credits of social studies, four credits of science, four credits of English, four credits of mathematics, two credits of world languages, 1.5 credits of health and physical education, half a credit of music and half a credit of art. Additionally, at least two credits must be earned in approved college or career prep courses and obtain 3.5 elective credits. All students must also complete 100 hours of community service. More information about these requirements can be found through the District of Columbia Public Schools.

National External Diploma Program

The NEDP program is a high school diploma equivalency program designed for adults and out-of-school youth. Instead of relying on coursework, participants use their life and professional skills to show their competency in three Foundation competencies which include communication and media literacy, applied math/numeracy, and information and communication. They are also required to demonstrate abilities in seven Life Skills: civic literacy and community participation, consumer awareness and financial literacy, cultural literacy, geography and history, health literacy, science, and twenty-first century workplace.

The NEDP is composed of both a diagnostic phase and an assessment phase. During the diagnostic phase, participants' skills are evaluated, and during the assessment phase, participants demonstrate academic, vocational and professional abilities through tests that might evaluate their knowledge and skills. To be eligible for this program participants must score a 9.0 or better in reading and math on the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) as well as show mastery at a 9th grade level on the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment (CASAS).

GED High School Equivalency Diploma

District of Columbia residents 18 and older can also earn a District of Columbia High School Equivalency Credential by taking the GED test. Individuals aged 16 or 17 who have not been enrolled in a traditional high school for at least six months may also take the test with written permission from a parent or guardian. Exceptions also are allowed for 16 and 17-year-olds who are currently enrolled in a charter school, incarcerated, or are enrolled in programs required by law to provide GED test preparation. A practice test is required before taking the GED exam.

The GED evaluates academic skills and knowledge according to the Common Core Standards established for high school graduates in school districts throughout most of the United States. GED candidates take four separate assessment tests that cover language arts, math, science and social studies. The tests, which are taken on computer and are available in English and Spanish, measure writing and problem-solving skills and an individual's ability to read, interpret and analyze different types of information presented in reading passages, charts, maps, diagrams and tables. To pass the exam, a score of 145 is needed in each subject area with a total combined score of 580.

Retests for any section of the exam are allowed after a wait time of 30 days. After three retakes, the wait time increases to 60 days. A required GED Ready test must be completed for each subject being retested and tester must receive a 'likely to pass' or 'too close to call' score before being allowed to retest in the subject area.

Sample questions and practice tests are available on the GED website. Adult education programs and centers that offer classes and support for people preparing for the GED can be found on the Office of the State Superintendent website.

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