Pursuant to Senate Bill 1, 2021 Extraordinary Session, districts are required to submit their current COVID-19 School Operations Plan and any subsequent drafts to KDE for informational purposes.
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Early Graduation

Early Graduation

Published: 1/13/2022 1:51 PM

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.

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 2020-2021 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. 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.


Important Notes
  • 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.

  • All incoming Early Graduates will need to take the online "student success survey.”  This survey will be used to further refine and collaborate with schools and districts about supporting this legislation through training and/or communication. The survey link is found on the revised Intent Form

  • Students and their families should obtain college pre-admission requirements before meeting with counselors at the high school. Schools are encouraged to meet with every potential student after the student and family meet with a college admissions counselor or representative from a post-secondary option (including career or military) who will outline the pre-admission requirements.

  • 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.




Heather Bushelman
Program Coordinator​ for Comprehensive Counseling 
Office of Teaching and Learning
Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: (502) 892-6555 ext. 4164
Fax: Fax (502) 564-6470

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