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Running Start

General Information

Running Start is a recognized alternative course of study offered by community colleges and available to high school students who have earned sufficient credits to obtain at least 11th grade standing. Eligible students must be enrolled in a Washington state public high school, or meet all applicable requirements for home‐based instruction students, and demonstrate readiness for college level or professional/technical coursework in a college environment.

To learn more about Running Start options talk with your high school counselor, the Running Start Coordinator at your local community college and visit OSPI Running Start Program.

Please Note: Running Start students must take full responsibility for keeping up-to-date on what’s happening at Cleveland STEM High School, including important dates and deadlines (PSAT Tests, SATs, Senior Prom, Ordering Graduation Supplies, Graduation Rehearsal Dates and Times, Senior Meetings and any other Senior related events). Students can read CPUB and join the Facebook page to stay informed of upcoming events and deadlines. Also use your ECHO email and partner with your counselor if you have questions.

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2022 Application Deadline

Due date for Running Start applications is May 1, 2022

10th and 11th grade students who are interested in doing Running Start during the 2022-2023 school year must sign up by May 1 . Check out the Steps to Getting Started section below and complete the required tasks by May 1 .

Running Start and Skills Center Information Session

There will be optional Q&A sessions to get more of your questions answered on how to apply for Running Start and Skills Center and the benefits and risks that you should weigh in making your decision on whether or not to join these programs. If you miss these sessions, please reach out to your counselor to chat about Running Start and Skills Center.


  • A High School Junior or Senior
  • Place into college level English OR math on the placement test (taken at the college)
  • Some colleges will accept your SBAC, ACT, SAT, or high school transcript for placement in lieu of the placement test. Check the college websites for more information.

Steps to Getting Started

  1. Decide which two-year college you want to attend by visiting several campuses and checking out their course offerings on their websites. 
  2. Check the Running Start procedures on the website of the college you wish to attend. Some will require you to register as a student online or in person before taking the placement test.   Some may require that you attend an orientation session at the college.
  3. Take the placement test. (Testing schedules can be found on the college websites.) You will need to bring your CHS student ID card and money to pay a fee to the test center in order to take the test. Students with free/reduced lunch may qualify for a fee waiver from their CHS counselor. For more information about the placement test and access to test prep materials, check the college websites.

    You will receive your test results the same day and if they show you qualify to take English 101 and/or Math 107 you are eligible for Running Start. (You should receive a packet of registration material when you complete the test.)

  4. Schedule an appointment to meet with your high school counselor.  Bring your Running Start packet signed by parents to this meeting and a signed copy of the Seattle Public Schools Running Start Form. You will decide together which classes you will take at the college and which classes you will take at CHS. Your counselor will sign the Enrollment Verification Form included in your Running Start packet.

  5. Take your completed Running Start Packet, including the Enrollment Verification Form, to the college. You will meet with the Running Start Advisor and register for classes.
  6. If you are planning to begin Running Start classes for the Fall Term, you must complete all of the above steps by May 1 .  This is the priority date for most colleges. Most colleges will still accept your applications after this date, but courses will begin filling up, limiting your choices if you apply late.  Check each college website for their specific dates and deadlines.  You can also begin Running Start during the school year by entering the college Winter Term or Spring Term, however this may be more complicated.

Process for requesting a fee waiver

For students who receive Free or Reduced Lunch, you are eligible for a Fee Waiver to pay for the Placement test and for books through Running Start.

  • In order for your school counselor to issue you a fee waiver to send to the Running Start office, you must send your school counselor a copy of the letter or email from Culinary Services confirming that you receive Free and Reduced Lunch this year.
  • If you do not have a letter, you can request one by emailing Nutrition Services at: or by calling: 206‐252‐0675
  • If you are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch, but you did not apply this year, you must submit an application for Free and Reduced Lunch

Once Enrolled

The college will send your grades to CHS at the end of each quarter to be posted on your transcript. If you need an official college transcript you will need to request and pay for an official copy from the college registrar where you took Running Start classes.

College Websites

Cleveland STEM Running Start Overview

Running Start is a program that allows 11th and 12th grade students to take college courses at Washington’s 34community and technical colleges. Students earn both high school and college credits for these courses.

Running Start students and their families do not pay tuition. Running Start students and families are responsible for mandatory fees, books and transportation. If the student qualifies for free-reduced lunch, then they are eligible for a fee waiver to cover the additional mandatory fees and placement exam costs.

Fee-waivers are available in the counseling center at Cleveland. Students receive both high school and college credit for these classes, which accelerates their progress through the education system.

The mission of Running Start is to provide student services support to qualified high school students who are registered in college courses while following all Washington State Running Start laws and college policies and guidelines. We are able to serve our students and the college through:

  • Promoting academic success through advising and counseling sessions.
  • Promoting a successful transition from high school to college.
  • Offering college transfer and career advising and counseling.
  • Promoting Running Start through outreach to area high schools.
  • Supporting accessibility and equity of the Running Start Program for eligible students.
  • Be under 21 years of age and enrolled in any Washington State public high school or school district
  • Have 11th or 12th grade status determined by student’s high school district
  • Recommended to have 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher
  • Student must place in English 101 and/or college level math 100 level or above on an approved college placement assessment. Most colleges accept several placement options such as, Aleks, Wonderlik, Smarter Balance state exams with a level 3 or higher in ELA & Math, SAT, ACT, AP exam scores, and/or high school transcripts showing completion of high level math courses for math placement only

Students interested must sign up by May 1st for enrollment into Running Start Fall Quarter of the following schoolyear. Colleges may accept applications after this date, but course selection will be limited.

  1. Student takes their placement test at the College
  2. Student brings their placement results to the College Running Start office and picks up their enrollment packet
  3. Student sets up a meeting with parent guardian and school counselor at Cleveland in which they must bring their placement results and enrollment packet. Schedule an appointment.
  4. We will discuss details of participating in Running Start, decide on whether to participate in the program, and if the decision is yes, we will sign all required paperwork for enrollment.
  5. Student then schedules a registration appointment with the Running Start office at their college, meet their college advisor, and turn in completed Running Start packet
  6. Attend the mandatory Running Start Orientation at your college and sign up for college classes
  • Students take responsibility for keeping up-to-date on what’s happening at Cleveland, including important dates and deadlines (State Assessments, PSAT, SAT, AP exams, school dances, ordering graduation supplies, graduation related events, senior class meetings)
  • Running Start is a year-long commitment. Students may not start or end mid-year.
  • All grades received will be added to the students high school and college transcripts
  • All grades received will be calculated into the studen?s GPA at their high school and college
  • Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA each quarter at the college, if they get below a 2.0 GPA the college will place them on academic probation, which may lead to withdrawal from the Running Start program

How can I prepare for Running Start in my 9th and 10th grade years?

Students should challenge themselves by taking the most rigorous high school courses available. By taking Honors level, AP, and higher level math classes, students will be more prepared to take on Running Start classes. Learning skills in organization, time management, advocacy, and communication can also help students in being prepared to learn in a college-level environment.

What type of classes can Running Start students take?

By placing into ENG 101 students are eligible to take many courses that include selections from social sciences, business, world language and others. Students must place into college level math to take math and science courses.

What is a typical schedule and could I attend full-time?

In one example, a part time student will take English 101and US history at the college, and is still able to take up to four classes at Cleveland. With this schedule students will not be enrolled in Humanities. In another example with a full time schedule, a student will take English 101, US History and Math and is able to take one class at Cleveland. Students may enroll in a combination of college and high school classes or attend full-time at the college. It is important for students to plan their schedule wisely leaving sufficient time for homework, transportation and other activities. Students who chose to be full-time at the college are still able to participate in any and all high school related activities such as sports, clubs, and school dances.

How are college credits awarded for high school credits?

Five college credits are equivalent to one high school credit. The letter grade you receive on your college transcript is the same letter grade that will go onto your high school transcript.

What are some of the advantages of the Running Start Program?

Students save time and money. A student who attends Running Start full time for two years could be eligible for an associate degree at the time of high school graduation through their college. Public Washington State colleges have agreed to accept college credits earned from Running Start. Students can experience college life early and be independent in their education. There are a broad selection of classes available through Running Start.

What are some of the challenges of the Running Start Program?

Some selective and out-of-state colleges will not accept Running Start college credits. Students may not qualify for some scholarships at four-year institutions. Schedule coordination and transportation may be difficult for students with courses at the high school and college. College holiday breaks may not coincide with SPS holiday breaks. Students pay for books, transportation, and additional mandatory fees. The classes are paced faster than in high school because colleges are on a quarter system whereas Cleveland is on a semester system. Courses that take a year to complete in high school are completed in 11 weeks at the college.