Summary of State Graduation Requirements

State graduation requirements around the country can be summarized as follows:

  • Credit/Course Completion Requirements. This is the most common graduation requirement.47 statesrequire students to pass a certain number of courses (and thus accumulate credits) that are aligned to state learning standards in prescribed disciplines to graduate with a state issued high school diploma.The determination as to whether a student has passed a course (or accumulated credit) in each stateis made at the school/local level. For the class of 2024, in30 states, course passage is the sole substantive requirement for graduation.Ten of those states do require students to take a civics exam before graduating.
  • High Stakes Exit Exams. 9 statesrequire students to take and pass anywhere between 2 and 5 subject matter exams in order to graduate with a state-issued diploma.The states (for the graduating class of 2024) areFlorida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.
  • End of Course Exams. 6 states(Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee) require students totakecertain statewide end-of-course exams in order to graduate.In some of these states the end-of-course exam must count for a certain percentage of the final course grade.A final passing grade in the course as determined at the school/local level (accumulation of the credit) is a diploma requirement.
  • Mastery/Proficiency/Career Readiness.In10 states,students have an additional requirement beyond course passage or an exit exam to earn a diploma.These requirements come in various forms of demonstrating competency, mastery, or college and career readiness.In most cases the state allows for multiple ways to meet the state requirement as designed and implemented by the local school district.
    • Locally designed and implemented.6 states.In several states the state has set a standard of mastery, competency, or graduation “readiness” and has asked local districts to devise their own way to meet this standard.In Connecticut, districts can choose their own assessments to measure students’ mastery-based learning.In Rhode Island, beginning with the class of 2028, localities need meet the state Readiness Based Graduation Requirement.In Pennsylvania districts rely on locally developed assessments to comply with state standards. In Vermont, students have to demonstrate proficiency in alocally delineated set of content knowledge and skills connected to state standards that, when supplemented with any additional locally developed requirements, have been determined to qualify a student for earning a high school diploma. The mode of assessment is locally determined.In Colorado and New Mexico, local districts can select from a menu of options, including capstones, AP or IB tests, or locally developed assessments to meet the readiness requirement.
    • State Competency Badges. 3 states.In Ohio, Indiana and Nevada, students must demonstrate a certain number of post-secondary readiness competencies from a menu of options and categories provided by the state and implemented locally.
    • ACT Passage with Specific Cutoff Score set by state. 1 state.Alabama has required that beginning with the graduating class of 2028, students will have to “pass” the ACT with a cutoff score to be determined by the state as an indicator of “college and career readiness.”