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Running Start

Running Start General Information


Sophomores and Juniors

Watch for Running Start Info Sessions and mark your calendars to attend. Talk to your CHS Counselor if you have any questions at all about Running Start and learn more about the information below.


What is Running Start?

Running Start is a program for High School Juniors and Seniors to take college classes at Washington two year colleges and earn high school and college credit at the same time.

As Running Start is a dual-credit academic program students receive both high school and college credit for these classes which can accelerate their progress through completing specific credit requirements for high school graduation and course requirements for a technical certification or Associate’s Degree.

Tuition is free for a maximum of 15 credits per quarter in college-level courses numbered 100 or higher. However, the number of college credits each student may take free of tuition costs depends on how many classes the student is concurrently taking at the high school. Students are responsible for tuition for pre-college courses (numbering below 100) and any credits that exceed their allowable limit. Students are responsible for the cost of books and transportation; however, fee waivers for these expenses (not including transportation) are available for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Students Please Note: Running Start students must take full responsibility for keeping up-to-date on what’s happening at Cleveland STEM HS, including important dates and deadlines (AP Tests, Senior Prom, Yearbook Portraits, Grad Ads, Ordering Graduation Supplies, Graduation Rehearsal Dates and Times, Senior Meetings and any other Senior related events).



  • 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 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 to this meeting and if this is your first time enrolling, a signed copy of the Running Start Agreement Form for Cleveland High School and a SPS Memorandum. 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, try to complete all of the above steps  during April  if possible.  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, but the logistics are more difficult and not recommended. 

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.

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.


Resources and Forms

Links to the following information will be posted as it become available.

Please visit the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website to download a Running Start Enrollment Verification Form (RSEVF).

College Websites

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.

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.