The Rhode Island Diploma System

Preparing all students for success in college, careers, and life

Rhode Island has implemented a statewide diploma system to ensure access for all middle and high school students to rigorous, high quality, personalized learning opportunities and pathways.

The Diploma System: 


  • Supports multiple viable pathways toward a high school diploma including career and technical education and blended or online learning.
  • Provides each student with individual learning plans and a personalized learning environment to help them succeed.
  • Provides multiple opportunities and measures for students to demonstrate proficiency and graduation readiness.
  • Promotes an aligned system of state and local policies.

Regulations and Guidance

The Board of Regents 2011 Secondary Regulations set the framework for implementing the RI Diploma System. These regulations require all school districts to develop and implement a comprehensive secondary diploma system for middle and high schools that includes: student and teacher supports, local aligned policies, multiple learning opportunities for all students, multiple measures for determining graduation readiness, and a process for RIDE to review the quality of those systems.

* In July 2014, it became RI law to postpone the use of state assessments as a component of the RI Diploma System.  The existing Secondary Regulations and guidance are currently under revision. 

Graduation requirements are set at a level to provide students the skills and knowledge to successfully enter and complete a rigorous post-secondary academic or technical program, join the military, and/or obtain a job that leads to a rewarding and viable career. The RI Board of Regents through the Secondary Regulations set the minimum requirements for earning a RI high school diploma including:

  • Demonstrated proficiency in 6 core areas (English Language Arts, math, science, social studies, the Arts and technology)
  • Successful completion of 20 courses (at a minimum)
  • Completion of 2 performance assessments (exhibitions, portfolios and/or comprehensive course assessments)

Districts may include additional expectations or requirements such as additional coursework requirements, a level of proficiency on the state assessments or community service learning.

Districts are required to communicate specific graduation expectations to families and students prior to the start of the ninth grade.

 Diploma System - All Students Ready for College, Careers, and Success in Life 

The resources below provide information about the requirements for earning a high school diploma and what you need to do to meet those requirements.

What do I have to do to meet the High School Graduation Requirements?

  1. Pass your school’s required courses 
  2. Successfully complete your Senior Project, Exhibition or Portfolio
  3. Meet any other school requirements, such as community service learning

When do I have to do it?

  • Pass your courses during your 4 years of high school. 
  • Complete your Senior Project, Exhibition and Portfolio in your junior and senior year. 

    What can I do to be prepared?
  • Visit any teacher, your advisor, or your guidance counselor. 
  • Follow the Progress Plan that is designed for your success and get extra help to learn the skills that you need. 
  • Participate in free on-line math help and free on-line tutoring in the Virtual Learning Math Modules
  • Find out more about the Accuplacer and use the Study Guide App and Official iPhone app from their website:
  • Practice for the SAT with Question of the Day, Sample Practice Questions and a Free Practice Test. 

Additional Information and Resources

Students must be provided with appropriate supports necessary for him or her to successfully meet the graduation requirements.  Supports may be district or school-wide, such as Response to Intervention (RtI), or individualized, such as the Individual Learning Plan or Progress Plan.

Students are supported by educators including advisers and school counselors to ensure access to a variety of learning opportunities and supports that help students meet their academic and career goals.

Performance Assessments

Performance assessments (Diploma Assessments) include student portfolios, exhibitions and comprehensive course assessments. Students are required to complete the two Diploma Assessments chosen by the district or school.  Tasks and similar applied learning assessments may be collected in student portfolios, required as part of comprehensive course assessments and are a central component of student exhibitions. 

 Performance Assessments 

Compulsory Attendance Statute

RI law, effective on July 1, 2011, changed the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 years of age. The RI Compulsory Attendance Law, RIGL 16-19-1, responds to the number of students who, despite district/school efforts to engage them and provide them with a variety of learning opportunities and supports, are at great risk of dropping out of school.  This statute allows a student, age 16 or older, who has an alternative learning plan to be waived from attending school.  One of the requirements for making this available to students is that the school must communicate with the student and parent/family to develop an alternative plan that includes learning and/or training opportunities that provides the student an opportunity earn a high school diploma, its equivalent, or another credential.  

comprehensive school counseling

School counselors play a key role in supporting students in accessing pathways and learning opportunities that help students to meet their personal, social, academic and career goals. 

 Comprehensive School Counseling 

individual learning plan 

The student individual learning plan (ILP) is a communication and planning document that supports students in goal setting and reflection.  The ILP is used by advisers and school counselors to support students with appropriate interventions, learning opportunities and other activities to help them meet their personal / social, academic and career goals.

Personal Literacy Plan

A Personal Literacy Plan (PLP) is a plan of action used to accelerate a student’s learning in order to move toward grade level reading proficiency.

Progress Plan 

An individual progress plan must be provided for each student who received a level 1 (substantially below proficiency) on either the reading or mathematics NECAP assessment. The progress plan should detail the responsibilities of the school, expectations for the student, and include the parent in the communication of the plan for the student.  Schools must provide an opportunity for families/parents and student to meet and discuss the progress plan. School representatives, the student and parent/guardian must sign the plan indicating that they understand and support the planned interventions. See guidelines for details.


An Early Warning System (EWS) uses indicators to identify students at risk of not graduating high school on time. School districts all over the country are utilizing early warning systems to enable data-informed decision-making to improve the success of students and schools. The RIDE Early Warning System tool includes a set of indicators that enables educators and school teams, using current student data, to identify and intervene with students at risk.  The EWS screens all students from grades 6 through 12.  
The EWS can be accessed by educators through RIDEmap

In partnership with other adult service agencies, RIDE developed stackable, portable and recognized certificates that all students may earn. The certificate options below were initially developed for students who take the Rhode Island Alternate Assessment. The Rhode Island Alternate Assessment (RIAA) is the state assessment for a small number of students who cannot participate in large-scale assessments even with accommodations. However, many Rhode Island high schools are using the developed credentials to supplement high school diplomas. 

Regulations and best practice require district and school educators to communicate with families/ parents and students about graduation requirements, student progress toward those requirements, and the school level supports provided for students to graduate. Below are materials that schools may use to facilitate communication. 

Templates and Tools for Schools: