The Early Graduation regulation,
704 KAR 3:305, is a result of
Senate Bill 61 (2013) and is a companion to
Senate Bill 97 (2013). Since 2014-15, Early Graduation has been possible for students who intend to progress through high school on an accelerated timeline and graduate college ready in three years or less.
Waiver Suspends Requirement for Early Graduation End-of-Course (EOC) Examinations
Interim Commissioner of Education, Kevin C. Brown, issued a waiver on Friday, April 3, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Pursuant to the authority granted in EO 2020-243 and with the approval of Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the waiver suspends the requirement that current high school juniors participating in the KRS 158.142 Early High School Graduation Program take and pass end-of-course (EOC) examinations in order to complete the early high school graduation program and graduate at the conclusion of the 2019-20 school year.
The waiver suspends KRS 158.142 (3)(a), which dictates the requirements for completing an early high school graduation program and receiving an Early Graduation Scholarship Certificate. The suspension excludes current high school juniors who declared their intent to participate in the early high school graduation program prior to Jan. 1 from end-of-course (EOC) examinations. Therefore, juniors who obtain a qualifying benchmark score on the ACT and who meet all other requirements set forth in KRS 158.142 will remain eligible for early graduation.
The EOC exams are provided to school districts by KDE and are paper-based tests administered in schools. During the suspension of in-person classes due to the need for social distancing, it is not practical to require early high school graduation program students to report to school for these exams.
The emergency school closures should not prevent juniors participating in the early high school graduation program from completing the program and qualifying for an Early Graduation Scholarship Certificate.
The EOC requirement remains in effect for high school freshmen and sophomores, who will have the opportunity to take EOC exams in future school years.
Early Graduation (Pathway) versus Graduating Early (Credit-Based)
There is a difference between a student who is an early graduate and one who graduates early. Although the wording is similar, early graduation is tied to an early graduation certificate, scholarship and benchmarks; whereas, graduating early is tied to the completion of all minimum high school graduation requirements in less than four years. Even if a student is not part of the early graduation pathway, he or she may graduate early should the local board policy permit this.
Early Graduation Frequently Asked Questions
Please see Section 5 of the
Minimum High School Graduation Requirements FAQ for questions related to early graduation.
Early Graduation Requirements
Early Graduation is a deliberate pathway for students in grades 9-11 who wish to move on when ready, receive a diploma from the district and be eligible for acceptance into Kentucky public universities and non-profit independent colleges and universities. The pathway provides a financial scholarship, known as the Early Graduation Certificate, to support this action. Students participating in the pathway must meet the requirements set forth by
704 KAR 3:305 including those listed below. Students must:
Notify the school principal within the first 30 days of the school year in which they intend to graduate.
Enter the Early Graduation pathway prior to October 1 of the year in which they intend to graduate early.
Graduate in three years or less. Students exceeding three years do not qualify for the incentives identified with Early Graduation.
Take the state-administered college readiness exam and meet the college readiness exam benchmarks as set by the Council on Postsecondary Education in 13 KAR 2:020 for placement in credit-bearing courses without the need for remediation.
Take and score proficient on all required End-of-Course Assessments (EOCs). To meet this requirement, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will provide EOCs for those students participating in the Early Graduation pathway during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school year.
End-of-Course Assessment (EOC) Information for the Early Graduation Certificate
As 704 KAR 3:305 requires a student to score proficient on all required EOCs in order to attain an Early Graduation Certificate, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will provide EOCs for those students participating in the Early Graduation pathway during the 2018 - 2019 and 2019 - 2020 school year. For the most up to date information on End-of-Course assessments, please visit the Office of Assessment and Accountability's End-of-Course webpage.
Schools must create an equitable communication plan so that ALL students (including home hospital) in the school are aware of the opportunity to graduate early.
All early graduates must be flagged by October 1 of the academic year in which the student declares the intent to graduate early. There are no exceptions to this deadline which is mandated by legislation.
Students entering Early Graduation are not required to complete the graduation criteria PRIOR to entry into the program.
Before students can graduate early, they must demonstrate proficiency on all required EOC assessments and meet established benchmarks on the college-ready assessment. Other "readiness" measures will NOT be accepted.
District decisions such as class rankings, commencement speakers, picture placement in the yearbook and privileges such as senior parking are decisions to be made when students apply for Early Graduation by school and district personnel and then communicated to students and parents. The regulation outlines the criteria for and method of establishing Early Graduation in schools but does not establish parameters around other such decisions.
KDE and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) work jointly to identify and verify Early Graduation students. Schools may receive emails and requests for information about Early Graduation directly from KHEAA. If you have questions about the Early Graduation Scholarship, you may contact the KHEAA Early Graduation Scholarship Program Coordinator by email or call (502) 696-7399.
Please contact Damien Sweeney, KDE Program Coordinator for Comprehensive School Counseling, via email or phone at 502-892-6639 ext. 4545 with any questions regarding early graduation.