High School Graduation Requirements

Students in the San Diego Unified School District must meet both general requirements and specific subject and course requirements to graduate from high school. These requirements are set forth in Administrative Procedure 4770 and are outlined below.

The district offers several methods of recognizing students' achievement in high school: diplomas (standard and with academic distinction) and certificates of course completion. More information on each of these may be found below under Methods of Recognition.

General Requirements

Subject and Course Requirements

History–Social Studies
English Language Arts
Mathematics
Science
Languages other than English
Visual and Performing Arts
College Preparatory Electives

Additional Requirements for Graduation

Physical Education
Electives

Alternative Means of Graduating

Methods of Recognition

Valedictorian/Salutatorian Honors

General Requirements

Students must meet the following general requirements to graduate from high school:

Attendance. Eight semesters, or equivalent, in grades 9–12. Students should be scheduled for a regular instructional day of not less than 365 minutes (see Administrative Procedure 4026 ). Fewer instructional minutes may be specified in a student's IEP or 504 Plan. California AB 1012 requires that all students be enrolled in a full day of academic work, regardless of whether students can meet graduation requirements during a shortened day. All courses in which students are enrolled must have academic content. Administrative Circular 52, issued February 16, 2016, provides information on the Principal's Certification of Compliance in meeting the California AB 1012 standards.

Conduct. A record of responsible behavior according to the site's published discipline policies and in accordance with district policies and procedures.

Credits. Minimum of 44 semester credits earned in Grades 9–12. Specific subject requirements are identified below under Subject and Course Requirements. Students on approved early graduation plans must meet the same requirements.

Credits earned in grades 7 and 8: Courses in mathematics ( Integrated Math I A-B, Integrated Math I A-B Advanced, Integrated Math II A-B, Integrated Math II A-B Advanced) and languages other than English taken in grades 7 and 8 (except those taken at Independent World Language Schools) that meet high school graduation requirements are retained as permanent entries on students' high school transcripts and count toward the minimum 44 credits needed for graduation. Grades earned in such coursework are not included in the high school WGPA calculation. Students must complete at least two years of mathematics courses while in grades 9–12.

High school credit for college coursework is described in Administrative Procedure 4322.

Grade-Point Average. Each student must attain a weighted grade-point average (WGPA) of 2.00 or higher in grades 9–12 by the end of the spring semester of the senior year, or by the end of summer school (for summer school graduates).

A, B, and C grades in Advanced Placement courses, qualifying International Baccalaureate courses, approved dual-credit college courses, and University of California–approved honors courses are weighted. For courses designated as weighted in this document, the WGPA is computed on a scale of A = 5, B = 4, C = 3, D = 1, and F = 0. For non-weighted courses, the WGPA is computed on a scale of A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, and F = 0.

For purposes of satisfying the 2.00 WGPA graduation requirement, the WGPA computation shall include courses taken in grades 9–12. For purposes of establishing senior class standing and/or determining senior awards, the WGPA shall include courses taken in grades 10–12 only. The WGPA shall be computed using the grades awarded through the end of the fall semester or second quarter of the senior year.

Honor Roll distinction will be granted to graduating students who attain a cumulative WGPA of 3.33 or better in grades 10–12, computed at the end of the fall semester or second quarter of the senior year.

The Diploma with Academic Distinction is outlined in Administrative Procedure 4772 and in its own section in this publication.

Honors courses. The district has designated a number of non-AP, non-IB courses as “honors” classes, according to criteria set forth by the University of California. All district-created honors-level courses must satisfy the following UC requirements:

  • Honors-level courses are specialized, advanced courses designed for 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students who have already completed foundation work in the subject area.
  • Students in the 9th grade enrolled in any honors-level courses will not be eligible for the UC honors designation per University of California a-g requirements.
  • Honors-level courses being considered for the UC honors designation will have a non-honors equivalent course offered at the same frequency (e.g., annually, every other year, etc.), in the same subject area, and at the same grade level.
  • For prerequisites, see the individual course descriptions, below.
  • Honors-level courses must have a comprehensive district end-of-course examination. The purpose of the end-of-course examination is for students to exhibit depth of knowledge and sustained mastery of subject material.
  • All students enrolled in honor-level courses must take the district end-of-course examination. All student scores on the district end-of-course examination must be uploaded to Illuminate for reporting purposes.
  • If students enrolled in honors-level courses do not take the district end-of-course examination, student transcripts will reflect an academic mark in the non-honors equivalent course.

The district's designated honors courses are:

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Subject and Course Requirements

A total of 44 semester credits is required for graduation. All courses required for graduation must be approved by the University of California (UC) in the subject area specified, unless otherwise noted.

History–Social Studies: the UC a Subject Area

Six semester credits in the UC a subject area, as follows:

  1. Two credits in a world history 1,2 course, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12.
  2. Two credits in a U.S. history 1,2 course, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12.
  3. One credit in an American government course.
  4. One credit in an economics course. Note: Economics is a district and state requirement [CA Education Code §51225.3], and counts as one semester of UC g.

See this chart. [return to top]

E nglish Language Arts: the UC b Subject Area

Eight semester credits in the UC b subject area, as follows:

  1. Two credits, English 1,2 (or ELD 5,6) as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12.
  2. Two credits, English 3,4 or English 3,4 Advanced, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12.
  3. Four additional credits, including one credit in a course that emphasizes a range of American literature and three credits from the prescribed list of English courses as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12, or ICC-approved San Diego Community College District courses.

See this chart. [return to top]

Mathematics: the UC c Subject Area

Six semester credits in the UC c subject area. All students must complete a minimum of two year-long mathematics courses while enrolled in grades 9–12 per Education Code. The six credits are as follows:

  1. Two credits in Integrated Math I A-B or Integrated Math I A-B Advanced, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK?12.
  2. Two credits in Integrated Math II A-B or Integrated Math II A-B Advanced, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12.
  3. Two credits in Integrated Math III A-B or Integrated Math III A-B Advanced, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12, or San Diego Community College District approved combined sequence of Math 96 and Math 119.

Note: Students who complete Integrated Math courses with a grade of C or higher in middle school should continue the Integrated Math course sequence upon entering high school. Taking a course in statistics in place of Integrated Math III A-B does not satisfy the district?s third-year requirement.

See this chart. [return to top]

Science: the UC d Subject Area

Six semester credits, as follows:

  1. Two credits (one year) in the same life science course approved in the UC d subject area, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12. Must include Biology 1,2 or an advanced level of biology.
  2. Two credits (one year) in the same physical science course approved in the UC d subject area, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12. Must include Chemistry 1,2 or Physics 1,2 or an advanced level of either.
  3. Two additional credits (one year) in the same UC d (laboratory science) or same UC g (elective science) subject areas, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12.

Note: See Administrative Procedure 4771, Alternative Means of Satisfying the Prescribed Course of Study, Attachment 2, for a list of CTE courses that may be used to meet the third science requirement above. [return to top]

Languages other than English (LOTE): the UC e Subject Area

Four semester credits of sequential courses in the UC e subject area in the same LOTE, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12.

Note: See Administrative Procedure 4771, Alternative Means of Satisfying the Prescribed Course of Study, for alternative means of meeting the LOTE requirement, including the validation of lower LOTE courses by the successful completion of a higher LOTE course in the same language. [return to top]

Visual and Performing Arts: the UC f Subject Area

One year (two semester credits) in the same course in the UC f subject area, as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK–12.

Note: See Administrative Procedure 4771, Alternative Means of Satisfying the Prescribed Course of Study, for alternative means of meeting the VAPA requirement. [return to top]

College Preparatory Electives: the UC g Subject Area

The district?s requirement of a third year of science meets the UC g requirement. Other district a?g electives may also meet the requirement. [return to top]

Additional Requirements for Graduation

Physical Education

Minimum of four semester credits (two years).

  1. Students must be enrolled in a course which offers credit in physical education for all terms of grade 9. If a student does not pass the FITNESSGRAM in 9th grade they must be enrolled in a course which offers credit in physical education in grade 10. (Please refer to AR 6142.7 for Exemptions)
  2. Every student must successfully complete 4 credits in any physical education credited course. Only then will the student have met the district physical education graduation requirement. Upon completion of the requirement, students may continue to take physical education credited courses with a maximum of two physical education courses per semester in a traditional school (six-period) schedule and a maximum of two physical education courses per quarter in a school with a 4 x 4 schedule.

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Electives

Eight elective credits must be earned by completing additional district courses as outlined in the district Course of Study, TK?12, unless other coursework is specified in a student?s IEP or 504 plan. Courses do not need to be UC a?g approved. [return to top]

Alternative Means of Graduating

California Education Code [section 51225.3 (b)] requires the Board of Education to develop and adopt alternative means for pupils to complete the prescribed course of study. Those alternatives may include practical demonstration of skills and competencies, supervised work experience or other outside school experience, career technical education classes offered in high schools, courses offered by regional occupational centers or programs, interdisciplinary study, independent study, and credit earned at a postsecondary institution. The district?s alternative means policy is set forth in Administrative Procedure 4771, Alternative Means of Satisfying the Prescribed Course of Study. Courses that may be used to satisfy high school graduation requirements under this policy are identified as such in the individual course descriptions. See this chart. [return to top]

Methods of Recognition

The district has three methods of recognizing a student?s achievement in high school.

  • Standard Diploma. All students who meet the general requirements and the subject and course requirements outlined above, with a weighted grade-point average of 2.0 or higher, receive the standard diploma.
  • Diploma with Academic Distinction. The Board of Education awards high school diplomas inscribed “With Academic Distinction” to students whose achievements have been outstanding. More information about this diploma is here.
  • Certificate of Course Completion. Certificates of Completion are presented to students who are non-diploma-bound, are receiving special education services, and meet all the goals and objectives specified in their Individualized Education Programs (IEP). A Certificate of Completion is issued at the completion of the student's prescribed educational program. Students receiving Certificates of Completion are eligible to participate in commencement ceremonies. [return to top]

Valedictorian/Salutatorian Honors

All district high schools use the same criteria for selection of valedictorians and salutatorians. Following the last grade report prior to June, each school will designate as graduating class valedictorian the student with the highest cumulative weighted grade point average (WGPA) for coursework in grades 10–12. The WGPA will be calculated to the nearest hundredth. Each school will designate as salutatorian the student with the second highest cumulative WGPA for coursework in grades 10–12. If two students are tied for valedictorian, both students will receive this honor, and the student with the next highest cumulative WGPA will be designated the salutatorian. In addition, each school will determine how to recognize, at its commencement ceremony, students whose cumulative WGPAs for grades 10–12 are 4.0 or better. [return to top]