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The Rhode Island Diploma System & Graduation Requirements

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

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

The Diploma System ensures that every student learns both broadly and deeply, is supporting own their learning, and is engaged in opportunities that are diverse, rigorous and connected to the world outside of the school.

Commissioner's Seal

Commissioner's Seal


The Commissioner’s Seal Council Designation certifies that a student is proficient in standards aligned to high school expectations in English Language Arts and Mathematics, as confirmed by external evidence. Commissioner's Seals will be awarded beginning with the graduating Class of 2021.

Earning Commissioner’s Seal Council Designation: Student Requirements


The Commissioner’s Seal Council Designation certifies that a student is proficient in standards aligned to high school expectations in English Language Arts and Mathematics, as confirmed by external evidence. To earn a Commissioner’s Seal, students must successfully meet the established benchmark on both an approved ELA assessment and an approved mathematics assessment in order to earn the one Commissioner’s Seal.

Commissioner's Seal Assessment List and Performance Standards


Assessment Name Assessment
Content Area
Performance Standard
ACT English English Language Arts 18
PSAT Reading and Writing English Language Arts 430
SAT Reading and Writing English Language Arts 480
Advanced Placement: English Language and Composition English Language Arts Level 3 and above
Advanced Placement: English Literature and Composition English Language Arts Level 3 and above
 
ACT Mathematics Mathematics 22
PARCC Algebra 1 Mathematics Level 4 and above; 750
PARCC Geometry Mathematics Level 4 and above; 750
PSAT Mathematics Mathematics 480
SAT Mathematics Mathematics 530
Advanced Placement: Calculus AB Mathematics Level 3 and above
Advanced Placement: Statistics Mathematics Level 3 and above

More information on the Commissioner's Seal can be found in the Commissioner's Seal Frequently Asked Questions.

For information on how to nominate assessments to add to the Commissioner's Seal list, see the Commissioner's Seal Assessment Nomination criteria.

Check out the other Council Designation options: Seal of Biliteracy and Pathway Endorsements.

Seal of Biliteracy

Seal of Biliteracy


The Seal of Biliteracy celebrates students who have multilingual competence – a critical skill in today’s global society and an asset that will prepare RI graduates for success in the local and global economy. The Seal of Biliteracy certifies that a student has demonstrated skills in the English language and one or more other world languages.  Students earn a Seal of Biliteracy by demonstrating competence in English Language Arts standards as defined by the Commissioner Seal or English Proficiency standards, and nationally-recognized world language standards Seal of Biliteracy Council Designations will be awarded beginning with the graduating class of 2021.

Earning a Seal of Biliteracy Council Designation: Student Requirements


To earn a Seal of Biliteracy, students must successfully meet the established benchmark on RIDE-approved assessments in English and another world language. Students may earn either a Silver Seal or a Gold Seal depending on the skill level demonstrated on the assessments. Students must meet the benchmark on both an approved English language assessment and an approved world language assessment in order to earn the Silver Seal of Biliteracy or the Gold Seal of Biliteracy.

Assessment Assessment
Content Area
Performance Standard
ACT English English Language Arts  18 
PSAT Reading and Writing  English Language Arts  430
SAT Reading and Writing English Language Arts 480
Advanced Placement: English 
Language and Composition
English Language Arts Level 3 and above 
Advanced Placement: English
Literature and Composition
English Language Arts Level 3 and above
ACCESS English Language Proficiency State defined exiting criteria for ELs
LAS Links - DRC (Form C/D)  English Language Proficiency Overall level 5
    Silver Proficiency Gold Proficiency
Advanced Placement: World Language World Language Level 3 Level 4 or above
AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages) World Language Level Intermediate-Mid or High Level Advanced Low or above
STAMP 4S: World Language World Language Level 5 or above Level 7 of above
ASLPI: American Sign Language
Proficiency Interview
American Sign Language Level 3.0 or above Level 4.0 or above

More information on the Seal of Biliteracy can be found in the Seal of Biliteracy Frequently Asked Questions.

For information on how to nominate assessments to add to the Seal of Biliteracy list, see the Seal of Biliteracy Assessment Nomination criteria.

Check out the other Council Designation options: Commissioner's Seal and Pathway Endorsements.

Pathway Endorsements

Pathway Endorsements


The Pathway Endorsement Council Designation certifies that a student has accomplished deep learning in a chosen area of interest and is prepared for employment or further education in a career path.  Pathway Endorsement Council Designations will be awarded beginning with the graduating class of 2021.

Pathway Endorsements may be earned in one of six discipline areas:

  • The Arts Pathway Endorsement
  • Business and Industry Pathway Endorsement
  • Humanities and World Languages Pathway Endorsement
  • Public Service Pathway Endorsement
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Pathway Endorsement
  • Teaching Pathway Endorsement

Earning a Pathway Endorsement Council Designation: Student Requirements


Pathway Endorsement Criteria: work-based learning, diploma assessment such as capstone, exhibition, or portfolio, and academic study of at least three courses

To earn a Pathway Endorsement, students must successfully complete three components: (1) academic study; (2) work-based learning; and (3) application of skills demonstrated through the performance-based diploma assessment. 

Academic Study

Students must successfully complete three (3) independent, connected courses, characterized by:

  • Increased complexity, and complementary or cumulative content
  • Deep learning with increased level of specialization that builds coherence of the topic through coursework
  • One or more courses must be advanced or experiential
  • Two of three courses should be outside of the typical courses for a particular content area or area of study suggested for all students.

Work-Based Learning

Students must successfully complete a work-based learning experience, characterized by: 

  • Acquisition of knowledge and skills related to the pathway;
  • Meaningful contact with and opportunities to work alongside professional practitioners in the field; and
  • Responsibilities, impact, and/ or opportunities to practice in the area of interest or career field that deepens learning of the content area.

This work-based learning experience should provide students with real-world experiences where they can apply and develop their academic, technical, and professional skills.  Work-based learning can occur through a variety of different experiences, including internships, apprenticeships, service learning projects, school-based enterprises, and industry projects.  See the recently released Governor’s Workforce Board Work-Based Learning Guidance for more information on work-based learning activities, standards and guidance: www.prepare-ri.org/wbl.

Diploma Assessment

Students must successfully complete a performance-based diploma assessment by aligning their demonstration of knowledge to the topic that they studied. Students must apply and demonstrate the knowledge and skills gained through their pathway coursework and chosen work-based learning experience and reflect on the pathway experience.  Students are already expected to complete a performance-based diploma assessment (portfolio senior project/ exhibition, capstone product, etc.) as part of their high school graduation requirements. Tying the performance-based graduation assessment to the Pathway Endorsement area of study links already existing graduation requirements to an evaluation of deep learning and validates personalization. In most cases, it is expected that this pathway-aligned diploma assessment will fulfill the state minimum graduation requirement of one performance-based diploma assessment (starting with the class of 2021).

Additional Resources for Pathway Endorsements:

Check out the other Council Designation options: Commissioner's Seal and Seal of Biliteracy.

Additional Information and Resources

Performance Assessments 

Performance Assessments

A performance based diploma assessment is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating demonstration of a student's applied learning skills and knowledge of one or more content areas.  

Successful completion of performance-based diploma assessments shall include demonstrations of both applied learning skills and proficiency in one or more content areas. The specific content area(s) is a local decision made by the student and directed by student interest.  

State-recognized performance-based diploma assessment options include the following: 

  1. Graduation Portfolio - a collection of work that documents a student's academic performance over time and demonstrates deep content knowledge in one or more subject areas and applied learning skills.  A portfolio typically includes a range of performance-based entries, some required by the LEA and some selected by the student.  It also includes student reflections, summary statements, and a final student presentation. 
  2. Student Exhibition - Demonstration of learning that includes both academic products and oral presentations.  A student exhibition is an independent, in-depth, extended project whose topic is derived from student choice and requires the simultaneous demonstration of deep content knowledge across multiple content areas and applied learning skills. 
  3. Senior Project - See description for Student Exhibition. 
  4. Capstone Product - A multifaceted assessment task, product, or culminating demonstration of learning of content area knowledge in one or more content areas and applied learning skills.  A capstone product is typically an independent, in-depth, extended project derived from student choice and guided by faculty and/or community mentors. 

While one particular type of performance assessment is required for graduation purposes, performance assessments more broadly include common tasks, comprehensive end of course tasks, diploma assessments, and other authentic assessments. Performance assessments allow students to demonstrate the application of content learned through coursework that is both comprehensive and integrated.  Performance assessments are a regular part of curriculum, instruction and assessment practices.

Individual Learning Plan

The Individual Learning Plan (ILP) 

has been a requirement for all Rhode Island students in grades 6-12 since 2005 when it was incorporated into the state’s Secondary School and Graduation Requirement Regulations. ILPs are a student-directed planning and monitoring tool that customizes learning opportunities throughout students' secondary school experience, broadens their perspectives, and supports attainment of goals. The ILP documents students’ interests, needs, supports, course selections (including access to college level programming), transition placements and other learning experiences both in and out of school. This information produces a thoughtful program of study leading to proficiency for graduation and postsecondary experiences. A meaningful ILP for all Rhode Island students:

  • Begins no later than entry into sixth grade and is maintained through 12th grade.
  • Is revisited at least twice each school year, and at key transition periods for students.
  • Helps students identify and meet their goals in three domains: academic, career and personal/ social.
  • Coordinates with other support plans as appropriate. For example, individualized education programs (IEPs), Section 504 plans, Personal Literacy Plans, etc.

To date, schools largely have not been able to implement this tool in a meaningful way, mostly because the ILP has not been prioritized for resource allocation and the state has not supported the implementation with professional development or training since its introduction. The PrepareRI state action plan for career readiness identified the Individual Learning Plan (ILP) as a central tenant of personalization and a tool that has the potential to be a meaningful and intentional facilitator and connector of career exploration and academic study throughout a student’s middle and high school experience. To make this a reality, RIDE has worked with stakeholders to develop new resources and tools, including a forthcoming menu of vendor that will help with implementation of revised ILP systems.

ILP System and Curriculum Vendor Menu of Options

As a result of the Spring 2017 workgroup's recommendations, RIDE issued a request for proposals for vendors that could provide comprehensive ILP system and curriculum. A review team, supported by a number of school and district staff serving as technical advisors, reviewed vendor proposals. This culminated in a menu of vendors that schools and/or districts can choose from as they implement or revise the ILP programs for their students.  The vendor menu and ILP Adoption Toolkit can be accessed on the School Counseling page.

ILP Framework

In Spring 2017, the Rhode Island Framework for Individual Learning Plans was updated to include additional information and supports for developing and implementing an ILP program at a school or district, including the primary components, stakeholder roles and additional information required for a successful program. The revised framework can be reviewed here.

Graduation Supports

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.

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. As a component of the Rhode Island Basic Education Program, "each LEA shall establish and maintain Comprehensive School Counseling Guidance (CSC) Program, including guidance and counseling services, available to all students in grades K-12. More information and resources can be found on the School Counseling and Guidance page.

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. Students who have substantial reading difficulties (reading more than two years below grade level) should receive intensive literacy instruction from a reading specialist or other qualified educator. Students’ targeted interventions or intensive literacy instruction must be documented and include the development, implementation, and progress monitoring of a PLP, which can be within the ILP.

COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE STATUTE

In July of 2011, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed revised compulsory attendance legislation, which requires youth to attend school until they are 18 years old.  The RI Compulsory Attendance Statute (RIGL §16-19-1) and the adoption of the Alternative Learning Plan is an effort to prevent students from dropping out of school and, subsequently, being placed in truancy court.  The statute encourages schools and families to work together so that students remain enrolled in school, via an Alternative Learning Plan, so that the student may continue to work toward earning a high school diploma or its equivalent.

The Compulsory Attendance statute mandates that students be in continuous enrollment until the age of 18. The RI Compulsory Attendance law allows for a superintendent or head of school to waive the attendance requirement for those students over age 16 who have an approved Alternative Learning Plan that supports their continued progress toward obtaining a RI diploma or its equivalent.

Student Certificates

Certificate Options for Students

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 qualify for the alternate assessment. The Alternate Assessmentis 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.

Alternative Learning Plans / Compulsory Attendance

Guidance and current information currently under development. Contact Kim Chouinard for additional information.

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