Alabama Readiness Policies


High School and Postsecondary Alignment

SREB’s Challenge to Lead 2020 goals call for states to align middle grades and high school policies with college-readiness standards, to recognize multiple paths to graduation and to provide students with diverse postsecondary options and resources. The following tabs summarize how Alabama aligns its policies to promote smooth transitions for students through high school and beyond.  


College and Career Readiness Definitions

Alabama defines a college- and career-ready graduate as a student who possesses the knowledge and skills needed to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing, first-year courses in a two- or four-year college, trade school, or technical school without the need for remediation and possesses the ability to apply core academic skills to real-world situations through collaboration with peers in problem solving, utilizing precision and punctuality in delivery of a product, and demonstrating the desire to be a life-long learner.


College and Career Planning in K-12

Students begin academic planning prior to entering high school. The Alabama Department of Education’s Counseling and Guidance Office is situated within the larger Office of Career and Technical Education. The Counseling and Guidance office was recently restructured to reflect its significant role in the state’s “student support systems”— one of the four pillars of Alabama 2020, the state’s strategic plan.

In 2010, Alabama launched the REACH Initiative, a research- and standards-based advisement model for students in grades 6 through 12. REACH provides implantation tools and lesson plans to help teachers, advisors and counselors enhance the career, academic and personal development of students. Specially trained career coaches serve every high school at least once a week, assisting students with career planning and college admission. Alabama also implemented an electronic graduation tracking system that allows local districts, in conjunction with each school’s Response to Instruction team, to use data on achievement, attendance and behavior to identify students who may need additional support services.


High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Alabama provides students with multiple paths to the state’s single high school diploma. All students must earn 24 credits — 21.5 of which are required. However, students can pursue either a General Education, Essentials, or Alternate Achievement Standards Pathway by substituting some of the required credits with credits from Career and Technical Education, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, Postsecondary credits through dual enrollment, or other state-approved courses. Effective with the 2017-2018 school year, only students with disabilities will be allowed to enroll in Essentials courses. If a student takes four or more core courses on the Essentials Pathway he or she is required to complete the work component requirements of this pathway.

Regardless of the paths that students choose, they must complete four units each in core subjects (English, math, science and social studies), one unit of physical education and a half unit of health. Students must take three units of either foreign language or career or technical education or arts education. Two and half credits of electives complete the 24-credit requirement.



Required Courses




English 9-12

Comparable AP, IB, postsecondary or other state approved course



Algebra I


Algebra II with Trigonometry or Algebra II

Fourth math

Substitutions may include: CT, AP, IB or postsecondary or other state approved courses




A physical science

Two other rigorous science courses


Chemistry, Physics or Physical Science

CT or AP or IB or postsecondary or other state approved courses

Social Studies


World History 

U.S. History I and II

1/2 Credit U.S. Government  

1/2 Credit Economics

CT or AP or IB or postsecondary or other state approved courses

Physical Education  


Lifelong Individualized  Fitness


Health Education




Career Preparedness


Career and academic planning, computer applications, financial literacy


CTE/ Foreign Language/ Arts Education




2 1/2


Total Credits



Assessment Requirements

To be determined. 


Accelerated Learning Options in High School

Career and Technical Education

Alabama’s career and technical education program is aligned with the National Career Clusters. The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), Division of Career and Technical Education (CTE)/Workforce Developments is the only state agency in the United States to earn an international certification for its CTE program quality management. It uses the Business/industry certification (BIC) tool to evaluate and improve CTE standards throughout the state.

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Dual enrollment credit is available to students attending public, private, parochial or church/religious schools pursuant to 16-28-1 of Code of Alabama 1975, or who are receiving instruction from a home school/private tutor pursuant to 16-28-5 of the Code of Alabama. High school sophomores, juniors and seniors participating in dual enrollment must have a minimum unweighted cumulative GPA of 3.0 and meet admission test criteria set by the institutions. To maintain their dual enrollment status, students must achieve grades of C or better in all attempted college courses. Students must have written approval from high school officials to be eligible to enroll in the program.

The Early College Enrollment Program allows career and technical education students to earn dual credit under State Board of Education Policy 801.03 and 801.04. Scholarship opportunities may be available to students who meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the dual enrollment program.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

The Alabama Community College Systems requires institutions to accept a score of 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement and award elective or general education credit toward an associate degree. The College Board contributes $32 towards an AP exam fee for students with financial need, while schools are expected to drop their $9 rebate for these students, reducing the testing fee to $53 per exam.

Early College High Schools

The Selma Early College High School allows high school students to take a combination of high school and college courses, graduating high school with up to 60 hours of college credit.


Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

Common, statewide admissions requirements do not exist for four-year institutions. Institutional governing boards set admission requirements.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

For admission to associate degree programs, students must show that they have completed a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. Students applying to vocational programs must demonstrate an ability to benefit from instruction.

In May 2017, the Board of Trustees adopted the Chancellor’s recommendation to re-codify policies governing admissions and placement. The new policy series references admissions but repeals ACCS Policy 802.01, which addressed system-wide provisions for student assessment and placement.


Postsecondary Placement Policies

Four-Year Institutions

Common, statewide placement requirements do not exist for four-year institutions. Institutional governing boards set placement requirements.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

The Alabama Community College Board of Trustees has adopted a Chancellor’s recommendation to re-codify policies governing admissions and placement which repealed the state’s system-wide requirements for student placement testing.

As a result, the Alabama Community College System now encourages but does not require its institutions to use the ACCUPLACER to assess students for placement into credit-bearing college courses.

Institutions may exempt students from placement tests if students achieve satisfactory scores — as set by each institution — on the ACT or SAT.

In general, students may be exempted from placement testing if they achieve the following scores on the SAT or ACT:

  • SAT: math 480 or above; verbal/reading 480 or above; English/writing 480 or above.
  • ACT: English/writing 18 or above; reading 20 or above; math 20 or above.

State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

The Alabama Student Assistance Program provides need-based aid awards of $300 to $5,000 per academic year. Applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid each year. Recipients with qualifying Expected Family Contributions may use the reward at nearly 80 postsecondary institutions in Alabama.

The Alabama Student Grant Program provides up to $1,200 annually for students attending nonpublic institutions and does not require applicants to demonstrate academic merit or financial need.


Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education provides feedback reports on the postsecondary enrollment of recent high school graduates. The Commission tracks the feeder high schools for each public two- and four-year college. Each high school also receives a report that includes the number of students taking remedial courses.