DP Essentials






Diploma Plus® schools chart a new path to success for young people who have not reached their potential in a traditional secondary school setting. Diploma Plus (DP) combines high expectations for every student, a competency-based and standards-aligned approach, a personalized learning environment, and opportunities to make connections between classroom learning and the world outside the school walls. DP students gain strong academic and life skills and valuable civic, college and work experiences that prepare them for a successful transition to post-secondary education and careers. Diploma Plus schools create and support a positive and innovative learning environment by providing four essential elements that promote student success. These four essentials are fully implemented in all Diploma Plus Schools.

Performance-Based System

Diploma Plus Schools provide curriculum, instruction, and assessment that are focused on knowledge, skills, and understandings. Students develop meaning at their own pace and are placed, promoted, and graduate according to their demonstrated learning rather than seat time, age, or credit accumulation. In DP, rigorous curricula, effective instructional practices, and authentic assessments are competency-based and standards-aligned, and built into a performance-based promotion and graduation structure.


Supportive School Culture

Diploma Plus Schools work intentionally to develop a positive and supportive school culture. This culture is developed through specific relationship-building activities and deep-rooted school norms that nurture the strengths of diversity and inclusivity.


Future Focus

Diploma Plus Schools intentionally focus on students’ futures through awareness, exposure, and preparation opportunities, and by providing transitional experiences for students in all DP Phases. This involves a multi-year sequence of civic, career and college exploration activities and opportunities that are embedded in advisories, classroom activities, and out-of-school time. These opportunities include developmentally appropriate and progressively intensive experiences in relation to college and careers in the Foundation and Presentation Phases, in addition to intensive preparation experiences in the Plus Phase. The Plus Phase college course, internship, and Community Action Project are powerful and important learning opportunities for all DP students, and represent a significant component of the Plus Phase experience.


Effective Supports

Diploma Plus Schools have external and internal structures that support programs and help ensure student success.