Maryland – High School to College & Careers

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High School Graduation Requirements for Current Seniors

Students must complete at least 21 units to earn a regular high school diploma. Students complete the same core curriculum requirements but have the choice to pursue an academic, advanced technology, or career-technology concentration through elective courses.

Subjects Diploma Units Course Requirements
English 4  
Mathematics 3 Algebra and Data Analysis
Geometry
Science 3 Biology
Two lab-based courses chosen from:
• Earth
• Life
• Environmental, and/or
Physical science
Social Science 3 American History
World history
Government
Health 0.5  
Physical Education 0.5  
Fine Arts 1  
Technology Education 1  
Academic Electives 2 to 4 Students choose from one of three options:
• Two units in foreign language and three other elective units;
• Two units in advanced technology and three other elective units, or
• Four units in a state-approved career-technology program and one additional elective unit.
Electives 1 to 3  
TOTAL 21  

Non-Curricular Requirements

Service learning: In order to graduate, students must complete a 75-hour service-learning requirement.

Assessment Requirements

Maryland requires students to take end-of-course tests called the Maryland High School Assessments (HSAs) in four subjects: English II, algebra/data analysis, biology, and government. Current high school students must earn passing scores on each individual HSA or earn a passing combined score on the four exams in order to graduate.

The state reinstated the administration of the HSA in government in the 2012-2013 school year so that students entering high school in 2013-2014 must earn passing scores on each individual HSA or earn a passing combined score on the four exams in order to graduate. Students who do not pass an HSA may retake it as many times as necessary to pass and may receive academic assistance from the local district.

College and Career Readiness

Maryland adopted the Common Core State Standards in June 2010. Districts implemented the new English language arts (ELA) and mathematics standards starting in the 2013-14 school year. Maryland is a Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) governing state. The state will implement the PARCC assessments during the 2014-15 school year.

For students who are otherwise on track to graduate but who have unsuccessfully attempted the High School Assessments at least twice, Maryland offers an alternative to meet the graduation testing requirement. Called the Bridge Plan, the alternative offers students an opportunity to fulfill the requirement by completing project modules in HSA content areas. 

Students entering ninth-grade in the 2014-2015 school year and beyond will take the PARCC English 10, PARCC Algebra, HSA Biology and HSA Government. They will also be required to enroll in a mathematics course every year they are enrolled in high school, up to a maximum of four years of attendance, unless in the fifth or sixth year a mathematics course is needed to meet a graduation requirement.

Beginning with students entering ninth-grade in the 2013-2014 school year, students who are not college and career ready in English language arts (ELA) or mathematics, as assessed by the end of eleventh- grade, are required to take transition courses.

The 2014 Maryland Report Card contains five data elements for high schools. The following table summarizes the data elements contained in the high school report cards.

Category Data Elements Specific Metrics
Accountability School progress index • Student achievement
• Achievement gap reduction
• College and career readiness
Assessments • High School Assessments (HSA)
• College Readiness Indicators
• HSA status (percentage who have taken and passed all tests)
• Participation and success, by subgroup and HSA
• Participation and success on Advanced Placement (AP) exams, PSAT, SAT, and ACT
College Status • College enrollment
• Credit accumulation
• State college enrollment
• Nationwide college enrollment
• Percentage of students earning one year of college credit within 16 months of high school graduation
Demographics Attendance • Enrollment and attendance rates
• Mobility
Graduation Grade 12 outcomes • Graduation rates, overall and by subgroup
• Dropout rates, overall and by subgroup

College and Career Planning

Students develop four-year high school plans of study and identify career opportunities, but Maryland State Board rules do not specify when tasks must be completed.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) and the Maryland State Department of Education provide access to MD Go 4 It, a Web portal for Maryland students and their families to help them plan, apply and pay for college. Current resources can be accessed online at MDgo4it.org. MHEC conducts live “Money for College” financial aid presentations across the state.

Accelerated Learning Options

Dual and Concurrent Enrollment

High school students with outstanding academic records may enroll concurrently in college courses while in high school, typically after the junior year.

State law requires local schools to pay for up to four dual credit courses. Admissions and eligibility requirements vary based on the established agreements between districts and postsecondary institutions.  

Early Admission

Maryland’s public four-year segments (University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland) have policies that allow students to seek early admission, as long as they arrange to earn a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. Institutions that offer early admission determine their own procedures and requirements for doing so.

Postsecondary Admissions and Placement

Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Maryland’s public four-year segments set minimum admission requirements for their institutions. As an example, the University System of Maryland’s minimum admissions requirements are:

  • An earned high school diploma or equivalent,
  • High school GPA of 2.0 or higher,
  • Completion of the core curriculum (see below) and
  • Submission of national standardized examination such as SAT or ACT scores.

Each University System of Maryland institution determines its own admission standards and may set its requirements higher than the system-wide minimums. Institutions may make exceptions to the minimum requirements for up to 15 percent of their incoming classes.

Subject Number of Units Required Course Requirements
English 4  
Mathematics 4 Algebra I
Geometry
Algebra II
Science 3 • Earned science credits in at least two subject areas
• Two of three units must be lab-based.
Social Science/History 3  
Foreign Language 2 • Two units in the same language
• Some institutions may substitute two units of advanced technology in place of foreign language.
Total 16  

University system placement requirements: Requirements vary by institution.

Community college admissions and placement requirements: Requirements vary by institution.

Feedback Reports

The Maryland Higher Education Commission produces a biennial high school feedback report. The Student Outcome and Achievement Report (SOAR) informs school districts on the college enrollment and first-year success of their graduates. The report compares the performance of students who did and did not complete a college-preparatory curriculum and identifies factors that predict how freshmen will perform. A Commission-led workgroup revised the SOAR Report in 2014 to include new and revised data elements with the improved report scheduled for publication in 2015.

State Financial Aid

Nearly all state financial aid dollars for first-time, full-time freshmen are allocated based on demonstrated financial need.

  Guaranteed Access Grant (GA) Grant Educational Assistance (EA) Grant
Who Can Apply? High School Seniors • High School Seniors
• Full-Time Undergraduates
Initial Requirements • Maryland Resident
• Apply for federal financial aid
• File GA Grant application
• Complete the College Preparatory Curriculum (see High School Graduation Requirements)
• Enroll in 12+ credits per semester
• Maryland Resident
• Apply for federal financial aid
• Enroll in 12 or more credits per semester
Minimum GPA 2.5 GPA No GPA Requirement
Need Formula

Last Dollar Scholarship:

Take cost of attendance and subtract Expected Family Contribution, Pell Grants, and state scholarships to define financial need

Last Dollar Scholarship:

Take cost of attendance and subtract Expected Family Contribution, Pell Grants, and state scholarships to define financial need

Award Range

• 100 percent of unmet financial need covered

• $400 to $16,500

• 40% of unmet financial need at four-year institutions; 60% at community colleges

• $400 to $3,000

Continuing Eligibility Requirements

• Reapply for federal financial aid to establish level of financial need

• Maintain satisfactory academic progress toward degree, as defined by institution

• Reapply for federal financial aid to establish level of financial need

• Maintain satisfactory academic progress toward degree, as defined by institution

Priority Students with lowest federal Expected Family Contribution receive awards first Students with lowest federal Expected Family Contribution receive awards first

Students may not hold the Guaranteed Access and Educational Assistance Grants simultaneously.  Any combination of multiple state awards may not exceed $19,000 per year.

Maryland will implement during the 2015-2016 academic year, a 2+2 Transfer Scholarship (SB1215, 2014), which will provide scholarships of $1,000, or $2,000 for STEM Majors, for students who earn an associate’s degree before transferring to a four-year institution.

Maryland has phase out the Distinguished Scholars Program, a statewide, merit-based scholarship program that guarantees funding to all students who meet specified criteria.

Sources

Maryland Higher Education Commission
Maryland High School Assessments
Maryland State Department of Education
MD Go 4 It University System of Maryland University of Maryland