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Continuation Education

Continuation education is an alternative high school diploma program. It is for students who are sixteen years of age or older, have not graduated from high school, are still required to attend school, and who are at risk of not graduating.

Many students in continuation education are behind in high school credits. Others may need a flexible school schedule because they have jobs outside of school. Some students choose continuation education because of family needs or other circumstances.

Students who attend continuation high schools must spend at least 15 hours per week or three hours per day at school. They take courses that are required for graduation. They also receive guidance and career counseling. Some programs offer independent study, job-placement services, and concurrent enrollment in community college.

The California Department of Education is involved in the funding and management of continuation education programs.

  • For more information about continuation education, contact your local school district.
  • The Continuation Education - CalEdFacts page provides a more detailed overview of continuation education.
  • The links and information below were developed for educators and others who are directly involved with continuation education.

Program Information

Continuation education is a high school diploma program designed to meet the needs of students sixteen through eighteen years of age who have not graduated from high school, are not exempt from compulsory school attendance, and are deemed at risk of not completing their education. California Education Code (EC) sections that provide for continuation education include sections 44865, 46170, 48400-48438, and 51055.

Students enrolled in continuation education programs are often credit deficient or in need of a flexible schedule due to employment, family obligations, and/or other critical needs. For apportionment purposes, a minimum day of attendance in continuation education is 180 minutes. However, many continuation high schools offer academic programs that exceed the minimum daily attendance requirement.  

In addition to providing state mandated academic courses for high school graduation, continuation education emphasizes guidance, career orientation, and/or a work-study schedule. Supplemental programs and services may include independent study, Regional Occupational Centers and Programs, career counseling, job placement, and apprenticeships.


The Alternative Schools Accountability Model (ASAM) provides accountability for educational options schools serving very high-risk, highly mobile students. These schools include continuation, community day, county community, juvenile court, Division of Juvenile Justice, opportunity, and other alternative schools that meet stringent criteria set by the State Board of Education.


Contact Information

Educational Options, Student Support, and American Indian Education Office
Jacie Ragland, Education Programs Consultant

Questions: Jacie Ragland | | 916-323-2568 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 19, 2015

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