Graduating with a Waiver

Local, state, or national emergencies should not stand in the way of our students graduating from high school. Governor Inslee recently signed a house bill which provides a waiver of certain high school graduation requirements.

Last year, there was a temporary rule which expired on July 31, 2020 called the Emergency Waiver Program. Its purpose was to make it possible for students planning to graduate from high school in 2020 to still be able to do so, even though school buildings closed on March 13th. There were clear rules and an application process each individual student was required to complete in order to receive this waiver. 

The Washington State Board of Education (SBE) made a request of lawmakers to install this temporary solution in a more permanent manner in case of present or future local, state, or national emergency situations. House Bill 1121 was created to meet that need. Beginning with the class of 2020, the SBE may authorize school districts and other identified education institutions to grant individual student emergency waivers from credit and subsidiary requirements as established in RCW 28A.230.090 and RCW 28A.655.250. This does not mean that your high school can just give out waivers. Schools must have tried all other suitable options to help a student receive credits before a waiver will be permitted. The waiver is to be a final option, not a first. Waived graduation requirement credits may include both core credit graduation requirements and flexible credit graduation requirements. This waiver will allow schools to be flexible when they need to be, so students who were on track before the national emergency can show they are ready to graduate, and walk up to the podium with the rest of their class. 

For some, this sounds great and is a much needed aid, but the waiver could impact future opportunities. Here are a few consequences to be aware of:

  • Students will have to make up waived credits which could cost extra money at their next school.
  • Eligibility for managerial or higher-paying jobs may be more difficult.
  • Students may need to make up the content in college or as part of other post-high school training.  
  • It may impact your preparation for some majors, such as nursing, engineering, and other STEM fields.  
  • It may impact admission and transfer opportunities to out-of-state programs and professional schools, as well as employment eligibility.

The SBE stated, “A waiver is a detour and should be a last resort, and you can decline it. Take some time to think about what a waiver would mean for your future and ensure you will be best positioned to transition to your post-high school plans.”  To view full HB 1121 go to:


  • “House Bill 1121.” Washington State Legislature, 2021-22, Accessed 5 March 2021.
  • “The Washington State Board of Education.” News, Accessed 5 March 2021.
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