Standard High School Graduation Requirements

Standard High School Graduation Requirements

The information below describes state high school graduation requirements as defined by state statutes and regulations. These requirements should be understood to show minimum course requirements, in that local boards may adopt graduation requirements above and beyond those mandated by the state. Policies reflect courses to be completed and do not include exit exam requirements. This database indicates where state policy specifies courses that may or must be completed to earn subject area credit.

With the exception of Nebraska and New Jersey, required coursework is expressed in Carnegie units, with one unit reflecting one year of coursework. Units defined in Idaho and Indiana policy have been translated from half-year to full-year units to maintain consistency. Exceptions and other circumstances related to completing high school graduation course requirements are included in the "Technical Notes and Citations" field at the end of each state's report. Subject area fields with a --- indicate that the state does not set course requirements for that subject. Where the number of state-mandated units in specific subjects falls below the total number of state-mandated units, this difference is indicated in the "total units" field rather than the "electives" field to reflect local districts' option to increase unit requirements in subject areas.

This information was gathered in January to August 2005 and is updated as new policies are enacted.

Last update: March 23, 2007

This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay Zinth, project manager, ECS High School Policy Center. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3689 or


Standard Diploma
English units (Std.) 4

Notes/Citation: English I, II, III and IV

Math units (Std.) 3, incl. Algebra I and geometry
Eff. Class of 2012: 3, incl. Algebra I and II and geometry

Notes/Citation: Third unit must be a math elective from the program of studies in 704 KAR 3:303. Eff. Class of 2012: Students must be engaged in math every year of high school. Prealgebra may not be counted as one of 3 math credits but may be counted as an elective.

Social studies units (Std.) 3

Notes/Citation: Must "incorporate U.S. History, Economics, Government, World Geography, and World Civilization"

Science units (Std.) 3
Eff. Class of 2012: 3 lab

Notes/Citation: Must include "life science, physical science, and earth and space science as provided in the program of studies, 704 KAR 3:303." Eff. Class of 2012: Must include biological science, physical science, earth and space science, and unifying concepts.

P.E./Health units (Std.) 1 (see notes)

Notes/Citation: .5 unit each of health and p.e.

Arts (Std.) 1

Notes/Citation: 1 unit "History and appreciation of visual and performing arts (or another arts course which incorporates this content)"

Foreign language (Std.) 0
Electives units (Std.) 7
Eff. Class of 2012: 7 (see notes)
Notes/Citation: Eff. Class of 2012: 7 units referred to as "academic and career interest standards based learning experiences." Of these 7 units, 4 must be "standards-based learning experiences in an academic or career interest based on the student's Individual Learning Plan...."
Other units (Std.) 0

Notes/Citation: Eff. Class of 2012: Students must demonstrate "performance based competency in technology" but no units of computer/technology credit required.

TOTAL # units (Std.) 22
Other diploma options State offers honors/college prep curriculum option and two technical pathway options. State has proficiency-based credit option.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) KY. REV. STAT. ANN. ยง 156.160; 704 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 4:010, 3:305
Planning and Counseling Requirement
State requires student to adopt learning plan (not including career pathway requirements) Yes. "Beginning with the graduating class of 2002, each student in a common school shall complete an individual graduation plan which incorporates emphasis on career development and shall have a total of at least 22 credits for high school graduation." "Beginning with a student's eighth grade year, the Individual Learning Plan shall set learning goals for the student based on academic and career interests and shall identify required academic courses, electives and extracurricular opportunities aligned to the student's postsecondary goals. The school shall use information from the Individual Learning Plan about student needs for academic and elective courses to plan academic and elective offerings." Each school must maintain every student's Individual Learning Plan, which must be reviewed and approved at least annually by the student, parent and school officials.

Beginning with the Class of 2013, development of each student's Individual Learning Plan must begin by the end of 6th grade and must "be focused on career exploration and related postsecondary education and training needs."

Additional Coursework Options and Requirements
State has policy on early graduation No
State has policy allowing students to meet coursework requirements through proficiency Yes. A local board may award credit "for satisfactory demonstration of learning based on content standards ... and a rigorous performance standards policy established by the board of education. A school shall establish performance descriptors and evaluation procedures to determine if the content and performance standards have been met. Every district must establish a policy for awarding performance-based credit that must include:
"(a) The procedures for developing performance-based credit systems and for amending the system;
(b) The conditions under which each high school may grant performance-based credits and the related performance descriptors and assessments;
(c) Objective grading and reporting procedures; ...
(e) The extent to which state-provided assessments will be used in the local performance-based credit system;
(f) The ability for students to demonstrate proficiency and earn credit for learnign acquired outside of school or in prior learning;
and (g) Criteria to ensure that internships, cooperative learning experiences, and other learning experiences in the school and community are designed to further student progress towards the Individual Learning Plan, supervised by qualified instructors and aligned with state and local content and performance standards."

Performance based credit may be awarded for:
(a) Demonstration of learning in any high school course;
(b) "Standards-based course work that constitutes satisfactory demonstration of learning in a course for which the student failed to earn credit when the course was taken previously;
(c) Standards-based portfolios, senior year or capstone projects;
(d) Standards-based online or other technology mediated courses;
(e) Standards-based dual credit or other equivalency courses; and
(f) Standards-based internship, cooperative learning experience, or other supervised experience in the school and the community."

In addition, a student transferring from a nonaccredited secondary school must be awarded credit by either passing "an examination of similar nature and content to the examination used for other students receiving credit for a particular course within the school district and graded on a comparable basis" or performing successfully "in a higher level of the course when the courses are sequential in nature such as English, mathematics, history, and science. Successful performance shall consist of achieving at least a C grade in the course by the 12th week of school."

Required coursework aligned with college entrance requirements Only college-prep diploma
All high school students are required to declare a major/career pathway/career focus No. However, all students must develop "an individual graduation plan which incorporates emphasis on career development..."
Sources Learning plan: 704 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 3:305
Proficiency-based credit: 704 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 3:307 and 3:305
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: 704 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 3:305; College admissions requirements: 13 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 2:020
Major: 704 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 3:305

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