Earning Credit through Equivalency, Challenge, External Credentials, Post Secondary Credit and Independent Directed Studies
Date came into force or revised
Issued February 2004; in effect July 1, 2004
Students may earn credits toward graduation in a variety of ways. In addition to earning credits by successfully completing courses delivered by a BC public or independent school, students will be awarded credits through this policy.
Learning is a life-long activity. Students learn in a variety of ways, some of which take place outside of British Columbia or outside of the regular secondary school program. Schools will grant credit towards graduation for learning that has been assessed and matches or exceeds provincial, national or international standards.
- See Ministerial Order 302/04, the Graduation Program Order
Policy in full
Although students are entitled to receive credit, as set out below, the Ministry of Education assumes no liability, financial or otherwise, for students who enroll in courses or programs offered by other jurisdictions or institutions.
Since September 1997, all Boards of Education are required to have Equivalency and Challenge procedures in place. These procedures must comply with the Ministry’s Equivalency and Challenge policies, below.
Equivalency Policy (Documented Prior Learning)
This policy describes how secondary schools award credit to students who have successfully completed an equivalent Grade 10, 11 or 12 course from an educational jurisdiction or institution outside the BC school system.
The Ministry of Education may make determinations about equivalency that apply to all students. Such determinations will be listed in the Handbook of Procedures for the Graduation Program or online Course Registry.
With some exceptions for international students (see the International Student Graduation Credit Policy for further information), all students enrolled with a board of education are entitled to apply for an equivalency review of their documented prior learning.
Schools will award credit based on equivalency for Grades 10, 11 and 12 Ministry-developed courses (including courses with a Graduation Program Exam) and Board Authorized courses.
There is no limit to the number of credits students may be awarded through equivalency.
Boards of education must not charge students for equivalency reviews; however, students may be asked to provide translations if documents are not in English or French.
Procedures for Equivalency
Schools will award credit through equivalency following the procedures of the board of education.
For the purpose of determining equivalency, comparison of courses may be based on factors such as the following:
- comparison of learning outcomes
- comparison of general subject matter
- comparison of depth or breadth of coverage of subject matter
- comparison of assessment methods, instruments, and standards.
To be deemed equivalent, there should be a match of approximately 80 percent or more of the learning outcomes to either a Ministry-developed or Board Authorized Grade 10, 11 or 12 course.
In order to receive credits through equivalency, students must provide the appropriate documentation as proof of successful completion of the course.
For reporting and transcript purposes, schools should assign a letter grade and percentage to all credits awarded through equivalency. If the student's documents show only a letter grade or level, schools may choose to assign a percentage, based on the mid-point of the matching British Columbia letter grade range. Schools may use "Transfer Standing" (TS) if it is not possible to determine a letter grade and a percentage from the documentation.
Challenge Policy (Undocumented Demonstrated Prior Learning)
This policy describes how secondary schools award credit to students who can demonstrate prior learning.
With some exceptions for international students (see the International Student Graduation Credit Policy for further information), all students enrolled with a board of education are entitled to undertake a free challenge process to assess their prior learning for any Ministry-developed graduation program course offered by any BC board that school year, as well as any Board Authorized (BAA) course taught in the enrolling district that school year. This entitlement to a free challenge process does not apply in the following circumstances:
- the student has already challenged the course and received a passing grade
- the student has already completed the course through previous enrolment, or
- the student has already been granted equivalency for the course.
This entitlement does not include Board Authorized courses taught in a non-enrolling district.
Schools and boards of education are encouraged to co-operate in order to allow students to challenge courses that are not offered at a student's own school.
Prior to engaging in a challenge process, schools must review any documentation of prior learning that a student presents in order to determine if credit can be awarded through equivalency.
The Ministry will fund enrolling boards of education the equivalent per pupil funding of a 1-credit course for each successfully completed course challenge.
Ministry-developed or Board Authorized Grade 10, 11 or 12 courses (including courses with a Grade 10, 11 or 12 Graduation Program examination) must be available for challenge in the district one year after full implementation of the relevant education program guide or Board Authorized course description.
There is no limit to the number of credits that may be awarded through challenge.
Procedures for Challenge
Schools must document the challenge assessment delivered to each student, including a pre-challenge equivalency review, and the documentation must be made available to Ministry auditors if requested.
Students should be able to demonstrate their readiness to challenge a course based on factors such as a recommendation from a previous teacher, or from evidence that relevant learning has been acquired outside the regular classroom setting. The demonstration should not be an onerous process. School staff, in consultation with students and parents, should make the decision about readiness.
Examples of assessment strategies that could be used in a challenge process include such things as hands-on demonstrations, oral performances, interviews, written examinations, or presentations of a collection of work.
If the enrolling board of education arranges with another board to conduct a challenge assessment for a Ministry-developed course not offered in the enrolling school district, then the enrolling board must pay any fee charged by the non-enrolling board to cover the costs of the challenge process.
Credit will be awarded through challenge following the procedures of the board of education.
Awarding credit through challenge should be based on the same standards used for students who have taken the course through enrollment. A challenge is considered successful when a student has achieved at least a C- and 50 percent.
For reporting and transcript purposes, schools must assign a letter grade and percentage to all credits awarded through challenge processes.
To receive funding, enrolling boards of education must report successful course challenges to the Ministry through the Transcript and Examination (TRAX) system by June 30 of the school year in which the challenge occurred. For courses completed via a challenge process, schools must report the appropriate TRAX code in the "Course Type Field." More information about reporting course challenges can be found in the Handbook of Procedures for the Graduation Program.
External Credentials Policy
This policy describes how students earn credit towards graduation through certain external credentials approved by the Ministry.
All students enrolled with a board of education are entitled to receive credit if they have earned a Ministry-approved credential.
The Ministry of Education has sole authority to review and approve external credentials and assessments, and to provide an official list of these approved credentials and assessments to schools. The list is published in the Ministry's online Course Registry. Some external credentials are classified as required courses and others as elective courses. Grade 12-level external credentials count towards the required number of Grade 12 level credits needed to satisfy graduation requirements.
Boards must not charge students for external credential reviews.
There is no limit to the number of credits a student may earn by using external credentials. However, there may be credit restrictions between credentials where the external courses or programs are deemed to be equivalent. It is the responsibility of boards to ensure that students do not receive double credit for credentials deemed equivalent. Credit restrictions are available on the Course Registry website.
Although external credentials may contribute towards graduation requirements, they may or may not meet general or specific admissions requirements for post-secondary institutions. It is students’ responsibility to verify admissions requirements for the post-secondary institutions they plan to attend.
Procedures for External Credentials
In order to earn credit for an approved credential, students must provide the appropriate documentation proving successful completion of the external assessment, course or program.
Students may have earned an approved external credential prior to entering Grade 10. If so, they are awarded credit if they present their credential any time after they enter Grade 10.
For reporting and transcript purposes, schools must assign all credits received as a result of an external credential either a letter grade and percentage, if possible to determine. If impossible to determine, "Transfer Standing" (TS) may be used.
Credit from Post-Secondary Courses Policy
This policy describes how students earn credit towards graduation by earning credit for courses at specific Post Secondary Institutions. It is aligned with the earlier sections on Equivalency and External Credentials.
Students are entitled to earn "dual credit" if they earn credit that leads to a post-secondary credential from a post-secondary institution which is a member of the British Columbia Transfer System or offered in French through Educacentre.
Post-secondary courses for which credit may be earned must be documented as follows:
- listed in the most recent edition of the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer Guide, or
- specified in individual Career Technical Centre (CTC) program agreements, or
- included in a BC public post-secondary institution's calendar as a course leading to a credential of one year or less, a two-year diploma or a four year degree.
Applicable post-secondary level courses count towards the required number of Grade 12 level credits needed to satisfy graduation requirements.
Boards must not charge students for reviews of transcripts.
Procedures for earning dual credit
All post-secondary level courses will be reported using course codes listed in the online Course Registry.
For reporting and transcript purposes, schools must assign all credits earned at a post-secondary institution a letter grade and percentage. Provided a course consists of the standard number of hours for most courses offered at that post-secondary institution, such courses will be awarded four credits, regardless of the number of credits indicated on the post-secondary institution's transcript. However, if the course at the post-secondary institution is offered in modules, credits awarded should be proportionate to 4 credits for the whole course.
Independent Directed Studies Policy (IDS)
This policy enables students to initiate their own area of learning and to receive credit towards graduation. The policy also allows schools to recognize learning in a Ministry-developed or Board Authorized course that a student may not have completed. This policy is not a student entitlement but an enabling policy intended to encourage schools to allow students to pursue further studies of interest.
IDS credits may be awarded by boards to students who have successfully completed independent work based on a subset of learning outcomes of Grade 10, 11 or 12 Ministry developed courses or Board Authorized courses. A student may study one or more learning outcomes in depth, or study more broadly a wide variety of learning outcomes from a single course.
IDS credits may only be used to satisfy elective requirements.
The maximum value for a single IDS course is four credits, but there is no limit to the total number of IDS credits a student may earn. The number of credits a student earns for an IDS will be set out in the plan developed by that student and a teacher, and approved by a principal. Grade 12 IDS credits may count toward the minimum of 16 grade 12 credits required for graduation.
Procedures for IDS
Awarding of credit through an IDS should be governed by the procedures of the board of education.
For reporting and transcript purposes, schools must assign a letter grade and percentage for all credits earned through IDS.
IDS courses can be for 1, 2, 3, or 4 credits. If students complete a portion of the outcomes for a course, schools may report their achievement to the Ministry using IDS credits.