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 jdounay@ecs.org.


West Virginia

Standard Diploma
English units (Std.) 4

Notes/Citation: English 9, 10, 11, 12

Math units (Std.) 3, incl. Algebra I and 1 unit above
Eff. Class of 2008: 3-4
Eff. Class of 2009: 3-4 (see notes)
Eff. Class of 2010: 4
Notes/Citation: Pre-Class of 2008: "Successful completion of Applied Math I and II is equivalent to an Algebra I credit. Applied Geometry may be substituted for a formal course of geometry." Pre-Class of 2009: Two of the 3 units must be from Algebra I and above. Eff. Class of 2008: Students in professional and skilled pathways must complete 1 of 4 career major units in math "including Algebra I and two other courses above Algebra I. Successful completion of Applied Math I and II is equivalent to an Algebra I credit and a credit for a course prior to Algebra I. All students must take Algebra I or its equivalent prior to the end of the 10th grade." Eff. Class of 2009: 4 units for students in professional and skilled pathway, 3 units for students in entry pathway. For students in professional and skilled pathway, at least 3 of 4 units must be Algebra I and above. For students in entry pathway, at least 2 of 3 units must be Algebra I and above. Eff. Class of 2009: "It is the intent that all students will take mathematics annually, but must take at least three mathematics classes in grades 9-12. If students begin the math sequence prior to grade 9, they should take other mathematics courses, which may include college courses, AP courses, virtual school courses, or other advanced offerings. This principle applies to all required course sequences. The mathematics courses selected for credit must be relevant to the student's career pathway. Successful completion of Applied Math I and II is equivalent to an Algebra I credit and a credit for a course prior to Algebra I." Eff. Class of 2010: All students, regardless of pathway, must complete 4 units of math. For students in entry pathway, at least 2 of 4 units must be Algebra I and above. Eff. Class of 2012: Entry pathway is eliminated. "The recommended course sequence ... for students in the professional pathway is Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, trigonometry, and pre-calculus." The recommended course sequence for the skilled pathway "is Algebra I, geometry, conceptual mathematics, college transition mathematics or Algebra II." "Students in the professional pathway and college bound students in the skilled pathway, who do not achieve the state assessment college readiness benchmark for mathematics, shall be required to take a college transition mathematics course during their senior year."
Social studies units (Std.) 3
Eff. Class of 2008: 4
Notes/Citation: Pre-Class of 2008: Must include United States to 1900, World Studies to 1900 and Twentieth/Twenty-First Centuries. Eff. Class of 2008: Fourth unit must be civics/government. Eff. Class of 2012: Fourth unit must be Civics for the 21st Century. The four courses "should be taken in consecutive order."
Science units (Std.) 3 lab
Eff. Class of 2012: 3 lab, incl. 1 unit physical science, 1 unit biology and 1 unit chemistry
Notes/Citation: 3 lab courses are Coordinated and Thematic Science (CATS) 9 and 10 and a course above the CATS 10 level. Eff. Class of 2008: Students in professional pathway must complete 1 of the 4 career concentration units in science (unit must be above CATS 10). Eff. Class of 2009: 3 units must be completed in CATS 9 and 2 courses above the CATS 9 level. For professional pathway, 4th unit of science must be above CATS 9. Eff. Class of 2012: All students must take physical science, biology and chemistry in consecutive order. Professional pathway must complete 4th unit science, which must be above physical science.
P.E./Health units (Std.) 2

Notes/Citation: 1 unit each p.e. and health.

Arts (Std.) 1
Foreign language (Std.) 0
Eff. Class of 2008: See notes

Notes/Citation: "All students are strongly encouraged to complete two credits in a foreign language." Eff. Class of 2008: Students in professional pathway must complete 2 of 4 career major units in foreign language.

Electives units (Std.) 4
Eff. Class of 2008: 3
Eff. Class of 2012: 2
Other units (Std.) 4
Eff. Class of 2008: See notes
Eff. Class of 2012: See notes
Notes/Citation: Pre-Class of 2008: 4 units completed in a career concentration. "Career concentrations are to be determined at the local school or [district] level." Eff. Class of 2008: Students must choose to complete 4 units in career concentration area in professional pathway, skilled pathway or entry pathway. Professional pathway concentration requires 4th unit math, 4th unit science and 2 units in one foreign language. Skilled pathway requires 4th unit math and 3 units in a concentration. Entry pathway requires 4 units in a concentration. "Prior to students selecting concentrations, opportunities for career decision-making must be provided in grades 9-10." Eff. Class of 2009: Entry pathway requires 3-4 units in a concentration. "Entry level career and technical students must complete 4 units in a concentration." Eff. Class of 2012: Entry pathway is eliminated. Professional pathway requires 4th science unit (above level of physical science), 2 units foreign language, a 1 unit in a concentration. Skilled pathway requires 4 units in a concentration. "Students in grades 9-12 shall be provided integrated opportunities within the core requirements to master the [state technology] standards .... It is recommended that all students take at least one course in technology applications during grades 9-12. It is also recommended that all students complete an online learning experience during grades 9-12."
TOTAL # units (Std.) 24
Other diploma options State does not have honors/college prep or technical diploma pathways, but does require the state board of education to award certificates of achievement to "students whose educational programs in grades 9-12 merit special recognition...." State has policy on awarding proficiency-based credit.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) Students must also complete work-based learning, which is to be determined at the local level.
Eff. Class of 2008: Prior to the Class of 2008, students were required to complete 4 units in a career major. Eff. with the Class of 2008, students must complete these 4 units in one of three "pathways": the professional pathway, for those going on to a bachelor's degree; the skilled pathway, for those going on to an associate's degree or postsecondary certificate; or the entry pathway, for those going directly into the workforce after high school. Four units to be completed in career major choices vary by pathway.
Eff. Class of 2012: All high school students must "be fully enrolled in a full day of high school and/or college credit bearing courses. It is recommended that students complete a senior project to add rigor and relevance to the senior year."
W. VA. CODE. ANN. § 18-2-6, 18-2E-8a, -8c, 8d; W. VA. CODE ST. R. § 126-30-1 through -4 (primarily historical regulations), 126-31-1 through -5, 126-42-5 and -6; Mike Kees, state science coordinator, West Virginia Department of Education
Planning and Counseling Requirement
State requires student to adopt learning plan (not including career pathway requirements) Yes. "An Individualized Student Transition Plan (hereinafter ISTP) covering grades 9-12 and the first year beyond graduation from high school is developed for every student in consultation with her/his parents/guardian and school counselor or advisor.
(a) a. During the 8th grade year, each student's ISTP plan is developed for grades 9 and 10. The ISTP is based upon previous career awareness, exploration activities, and a review of the student's ACT EXPLORE results. The 8th grade guidance/advisement program will focus on teaching students and their parents to read the ACT EXPLORE student reports so that they may understand how to use the information provided within the Educational Planning and Assessment System (hereinafter EPAS) reports to transition to the level of performance required to meet the student’s educational goals.
b. Each student, in consultation with his or her parents/guardian and school counselor or advisor, selects a broad career cluster for exploration in grades nine and ten and develops the ISTP based upon the choice of a career cluster. The student shall designate an educational pathway (professional or skilled) at this time. The student may amend his/her ISTP at the end of any semester.
c. For an eligible gifted student, a four-year education plan is developed during the 8th grade year by an IEP Team. The four-year education plan replaces the ISTP and includes the honors and Advanced Placement (hereinafter AP) and/or (International Baccalaureate (hereinafter IB) classes that must be provided for the student in grades 9-12.
d. For eligible students with disabilities the ISTP is developed during the 8th grade by an IEP Team.
e. The parent(s)/guardian and student each sign and receive a copy of the ISTP.
f. Students will designate a concentration by the end of their 10th grade year."
Notes/Citation: In addition, the state defines a "planned educational program" as "as an educational program that includes the state requirements for graduation as set forth in this document. The program places emphasis on preparation for college, advanced vocational programs, and/or employment.Students shall be encouraged to plan and follow a flexible, planned educational program and to accumulate units beyond the 21 required for graduation. The student's planned program shall be subject to periodic revision and designed to enhance the opportunity for success in chosen endeavors after graduation from high school."
Additional Coursework Options and Requirements
State has policy on early graduation Yes. Local boards must develop and implement policies defining "the compelling circumstances under which students may attend school for fewer than four full years and/or may be scheduled for courses for less than the full instructional day." Such policies must be approved by the state board of education.
State has policy allowing students to meet coursework requirements through proficiency Yes. "Credit is to be awarded based upon either demonstrated mastery of the content standards and objectives" through course completion or "tested mastery of approved content standards." Local boards must "determine the level of mastery which constitutes successful completion of a course. Students demonstrating mastery of instructional grade level objectives in the subjects are to be provided the opportunity to advance to the next grade level objectives." "County boards of education may adopt tests based on but not limited to learning objectives which will allow a student to test out of specific required units or prerequisite electives. Any tests adopted must have approval of the West Virginia Department of Education. A student who tests out of an area of study is expected to complete 21 additional units in grades 9-12. The student's permanent record shall indicate completion of the area of study through testing. County boards of education may develop policies and procedures by which students can test out of required units or prerequisite electives."
Required coursework aligned with college entrance requirements No

Notes/Citation: Effective with the Class of 2008, the "professional pathway" diploma option will be aligned with college admission requirements in the state.

All high school students are required to declare a major/career pathway/career focus Yes. "Prior to the end of their 10th grade year, each student shall develop, after review of the student’s ACT PLAN results, and in consultation with her/his parent/guardian(s) and school counselor or advisor, the second phase of the ISTP [Individualized Student Transition Plan]. Each student shall select a high school concentration that will prepare the student for college, other post-secondary education, and gainful employment. The ISTP may be amended and/or the concentration changed at the end of any semester."
Notes/Citation: Prior to students selecting concentrations, opportunities for career decision making must be provided." "The certificates of proficiency shall include specific information regarding the graduate's skills, competence and readiness for employment or honors and advanced education and shall be granted, along with the diploma, to every eligible high school graduate. The certificate of proficiency shall include the program of study major completed by the student only for those students who have completed the required major courses, or higher level courses, advanced placement courses, college courses or other more rigorous substitutes related to the major, and the recommended electives." "[I]nformation on student attainment of special skills, honors, advanced education, exceptional performance and other outstanding accomplishments shall be included on the certificate of proficiency granted to eligible high school graduates along with the diploma...."
Sources Learning plan: W. VA. CODE ST. R. § 126-42-5
Early graduation: W. VA. CODE ST. R. § 126-30-3; W. VA. CODE ST. R. § 126-42-6
Proficiency-based credit: W. VA. CODE ST. R. § 126-30-3
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: W. VA. CODE ST. R. § 126-42-6; College admissions requirements: West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Procedural Rule, § 133-23-3
Pathway: W. VA. CODE ST. R. § 126-42-6; W. VA. CODE. ANN. § 18-2-6, 18-2E-8a, -8d

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