Diploma Plus Inc., supported through grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, has created an extended network of Diploma Plus (DP) small high schools all over the country. Begun in 1996 with two Boston programs, Diploma Plus now works with 32 schools in 4 geographic regions. Schools primarily serve students who have been failed the traditional secondary school setting and placed at risk of not graduating from high school. DP provides a rigorous alternative for over-aged and under-credited students.

Diploma Plus small high schools incorporate a supportive school culture, a performance-based approach, future focus, and effective supports in order to increase opportunities for students so that they graduate college- and career-ready.

All DP Networks have adopted the philosophy that failure is not an option for our young people. They come to our schools in search of something different and special. Our schools deliver on that promise and prepare them for success in their post secondary experience and eventual career choice.


Diploma Plus is a nationally recognized education model that provides a rigorous, relevant, and student-centered alternative for our youth. DP is an alternative in the best sense of the word, its role is to transform our students' learning experiences so they will achieve success in high school, college and careers.

What are Diploma Plus Successful Elements?

The DP model has three phases-the Foundation Phase, the Presentation Phase, and the Plus Phase. In all three phases, students work on projects and assignments with clearly defined competency expectations and content objectives based on state and local content standards and larger DP competencies. Students are promoted or graduate as soon as they have demonstrated these goals and passed state requirements, regardless of the amount of time they have spent in the phase. They also compile, present, and defend a portfolio containing their best work across subjects. Students in the Plus Phase are also participating in internships, college course, and community action projects in order to support their transition into life after high school.