The purpose of Diploma Plus high schools is to prevent students from dropping out of school and to reduce the achievement gap by providing educational options to students who have not experienced success in traditional high school.
The Commonwealth Corporation (CommCorp), supported through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation), is expanding its network of diploma plus small high schools from the east coast to California. In selecting California Diploma Plus program sites and supporting their implementation, CommCorp is working with New Ways to Work (NWW) and the California Department of Education (CDE), in overseeing the implementation of Diploma Plus sites in California.
Diploma Plus schools are based on an alternative/small school model designed and administered by the Center for Youth Development and Education (CYDE) at the CommCorp. It serves youth who have not experienced success in high school. These youth may have dropped out and want to re-enter school or may still be enrolled and underachieving. Diploma Plus improves the academic rigor for these students while improving the transition to post-secondary opportunities.
Diploma Plus graduates receive a high school diploma. They also gain strong academic and life skills, valuable work experience, and college credits that can be applied to a future college degree.
CDE provided an initial $300,000, three-year investment that was critical in leveraging funding from foundations and in establishing Diploma Plus on a firm footing. This funding was matched by funding from the Gates Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.
Although CDE funding was discontinued in 2008, due to the budget limitations, in-kind support continues to be provided to ensure ongoing technical support.
Diploma Plus schools must be public schools that offer public high school diplomas and comply with all graduation requirements set forth in the California Education Code, including passing the California High School Exit Examination. Diploma Plus schools must comply with state and federal accountability and reporting provisions.