Grand Canyon Diploma

Grand Canyon Diploma


In a departure from tradition, in which students advance based on "seat time" or how much time they spend in a classroom, Move On When Ready offers students the opportunity to advance based on their mastery of the curriculum. A key feature of the model provided for in Arizona law is the Grand Canyon Diploma, a performance-based diploma available to students on a voluntary basis beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.


Qualification for a Grand Canyon Diploma signifies to students that they are ready to do college-level work without remediation and opens up a variety of education and career pathways within and beyond high school.


Grand Canyon Diploma Qualification Requirements


In order to qualify for a Grand Canyon Diploma, students must meet college and career qualification scores in all core content areas on a series of end-of-course exams.  Students take exams offered by Cambridge International Examinations or ACT Quality Core, depending on which of the approved aligned instructional system the school selected as part of the Move On When Ready initiative. These exams are typically taken during the first 2-3 years of high school.


The exams measure student progress towards college and career readiness and allow students to prove in-depth learning in a variety of ways – by demonstrating their skills in writing, analysis, and problem-solving.  The exams assess whether or not students have sufficiently mastered the core subjects they have studied and tells students early in high school where they stand relative to college and career readiness.


A key feature of Move On When Ready is that students are able to take the time they need individually to reach the goal of college and career readiness.  Students who don’t yet demonstrate readiness will receive personalized additional support from their school and will have an opportunity to re-take the exams and qualify for the Grand Canyon Diploma.


The Arizona State Board of Education adopted Grand Canyon Diploma college- and career-readiness qualification scores for English and Mathematics. The Board will adopt qualification scores for additional required subject areas, including history, sciences, and the arts, in 2012-2013. The qualification scores reflect the best empirical data on the actual literacy and numeracy requirements of the initial credit-bearing courses in open-admissions postsecondary institutions.


A student may qualify for a Grand Canyon Diploma by meeting the following subject area requirements within an approved aligned instructional system:

  • Two credits of English;
  • Two credits of mathematics;
  • Two credits of science, including lab-based science, engineering or information technologies;
  • One credit of American History;
  • One credit of World History;
  • One credit of fine arts or career and technical education; and
  • One-half credit of economics.


Credits within the Move On When Ready model are performance based.  Students fulfill credit requirements for the Grand Canyon Diploma by meeting the college readiness qualification scores on the end-of-course exams.  Students may fulfill the one-half credit of economics by taking a course outside the aligned instructional system. The same is true for the career and technical education credit.

Students that satisfy all the criteria for a Grand Canyon Diploma are exempt from the minimum course of study requirements and AIMS test score requirements for a traditional high school diploma outlined under A.R.S. § 15-701.01

Education Pathways Within and Beyond High School 

Once students qualify for a Grand Canyon Diploma, they are able to choose freely from many education options within and beyond high school. These options include:


  • Remain in high school and take an “upper division” program of demanding academic courses and exams, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International Examinations, that will prepare them for some of the most selective colleges in the world.
  • Remain in high school and participate in programs of study already available through the home high school or district, such as dual enrollment courses or specialized STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs.

  • Enroll in a full-time career and technical education program offered on a community college campus, a high school campus, a joint technical education district campus or any combination of these campuses.
  • Graduate from high school with the Grand Canyon Diploma and go to community college.


Additional Resources
Arizona State Board of Education MOWR Rules - Adopted January 2011