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Iowa HSED Alternative Pathways

IWD Adult Education and Literacy
As of July 1, 2023, Iowa's Adult Education and Literacy Programs have transitioned to Iowa Workforce Development to reflect programs and services primarily focused on workforce development and employment. The change was made as part of a broader state government realignment to bring together entities that work with similar subject matter. Iowans can expect the same quality services from these programs, in addition to greater access to job services provided through IowaWORKS.

In January 2018, the Iowa State Board of Education (Board) adopted an administrative rule change establishing alternative pathways for an Iowan to earn a high school equivalency diploma (HSED). Previously, the only way to earn a HSED was by passing the HiSET®, the state-approved high school equivalency test.

The new pathways, which are in addition to the HiSET®, are based on the accumulation of secondary credit or the completion of a postsecondary credential equal to or beyond an associate degree. All of Iowa’s alternative pathways are grounded in comprehensive data, research, and integrity that ensures rigor and maintains quality standards important to Iowa.

A high school diploma is a foundational step toward achieving self-sufficiency and financial stability for all Iowans. Currently, there are an estimated 150,000 Iowans who lack high school diplomas. These expanded options aim to reduce this number by providing flexibility in how students can demonstrate competency leading to the issuance of high school equivalency diplomas.

The HSED options discussed in this application packet may be administered only by entities approved by the Department per Iowa Administrative Code 281-32.3(1). These entities must be either be (a) accredited by the Higher Learning Commission OR (b) eligible entities as defined by the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, 20 U.S.C. Ch. 73 and subsequent federal workforce training and adult education legislation.

Any eligible institution wishing to provide one or more HSED Alternative Pathway options must be authorized by the Department. The process of becoming an authorized HSED alternative pathways provider begins by completing the following application and submitting it with all necessary signatures to the Department. Applications may be submitted for any or all of the following HSED options: (1) Department-Approved Test; (2) Attainment of High School Credits; (3) Postsecondary Degree; and (4) Foreign Postsecondary Degree.

Implementation Guide

Agency/Program Application

Registration Data Elements

Final Transcript Evaluation Form

Progam Checklist

Sample Action Plan

Prior Work Site Learning Assessment

Current Work Site Learning Assessment

Assurance of HSED Completion - Option 2

Assurance of HSED Completion - Option 3

Assurance of HSED Completion - Option 4