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Washington high schoolers can get academic credit for a paid job

About a third of Washington state’s high school students hold paid jobs on top of their studies.

A new program through the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction would honor that work experience with academic credit.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdahl recently announced that students 16 and older can earn up to four elective credits towards their diploma through their jobs. Students can choose any job as long as it is paid and verified by the school.

Reykdahl says students learn important lessons at work.

"Through work experience, students learn employability and leadership skills — skills like interpersonal communication, personal finance, time management, taking direction, receiving critical feedback, and following through on commitments — that support their long-term success in the workforce and in life,” Reykdal said.

Under the proposal, students would earn elective credits via their jobs — 360 work hours would equal one elective credit, or .5 credits for 180 hours. A student could earn up to four credits this way. No more than two credits can be earned in a single year.

Chetan Soni is going to be a junior at Lincoln Highschool and works part time as a fellow for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. He's excited about the program and says getting credit for his job would help.

“I know it can be hard to navigate school, life, work balance," Soni said. "I think this is a great way (to) like reinforce that upon the new generation of workers.”

Some business owners say the program might encourage more students to work at a time when many are dealing with staff shortages.

The superintendent aims to have the program in place for the start of the 2023 school year.