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Emerging Practices with Promise

Submitted By: Heather Stafford, Siskiyou County Office of Education

Members create a common diploma for all Siskiyou County adult schools

The Challenge

For years, within the vast rural geographic area served by the Adult Education Pathways consortium, there were no uniform requirements for obtaining a diploma, and other processes also varied by school. The adult education programs throughout Siskiyou County had several different diploma requirements. They also had different practices when it came to using entry assessments to determine adult learners’ skill levels and analyzing transcripts to determine where students left off in meeting diploma requirements. The lack of a uniform system made it difficult on students who transferred from one adult education program to another, sometimes requiring them to retake entry assessments or take a class they had not anticipated taking at the outset of their enrolling in a program – extra steps that can impact a student’s resolve to complete a program. The consortium wanted to find a way to remove these types of obstacles for students and streamline this diploma so there is “no wrong door.”

The Solution

To address the challenge, consortium members worked together to adopt a common diploma requirement across the county to streamline the process of earning a diploma. Under the new, uniform requirement, students across the county must earn 200 credits for a diploma – 120 credits for core foundation courses and 80 credits for elective core courses, including 20 credits for successful completion of a capstone project. They also have the option of an additional 10 credits by earning a Level 1 certificate in a career area, for a total of 210 credits.

This solution uses a common benchmark assessment to determine the student’s skill level for better placement in courses. The test results are shared with all the adult education sites in the county. The common curriculum ensures a seamless transition should a student need to transfer to another diploma program within the county. Students then simply pick up in the new program at the level where they left off at their previous school. The consortium’s objective with the core foundation subjects is to connect the curriculum to career themes in each of the subject areas. This will not only better prepare students for their diploma work, but it will be more relevant to their lives and subsequent careers.


The consortium began implementing this common diploma requirement at adult education sites around the county in mid-2016-17. The consortium has completed nearly all the required common curriculum for an adult education diploma to date, with only pieces of social studies and science remaining to be interpreted and on track for completion by the end of fall. The consortium anticipates 80 percent of its schools will have translated this common diploma curriculum into their internal curriculum by the end of the school year and expects reportable student outcomes of this first-year adoption in the 2018-19 school year.

The Data

This common curriculum allows the county to establish a baseline of common assessment and success in the first year and to begin measuring participation and completion results in the second year. This type of consistent student information has not been comprehensively measured in the county. The consortium is excited to track the results and impact on its adult learners.

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