High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

House Bill 5 (2013) authorized the Texas State Board of Education to adopt rules for the new Foundation High School Diploma program. The Texas commissioner of education developed a transition plan to replace the Recommended, Distinguished, and Minimum Diplomas with the Foundation Program. Students who entered ninth-grade in the 2014-2015 school year were the first group required to graduate under the Foundation High School program.



Foundation High School Diploma



English I

English II

English III

An advanced English course



Algebra I


An advanced math course




IPC* or an advanced science course

Another advanced science course

Social Studies


U.S. History

1/2 Credit U.S. Governement

1/2 Credit Economics

World History or World Geography

Physical Education



Languages Other than English


2 Credits in the same language or two credits from computer science I, II, and III (other substitutions)

Fine Arts





Demonstrated proficiency in speech skills




Total Credits 22  

*IPC is “Integrated Physics and Chemistry,” a one-credit course

Under House Bill 5, students entering ninth-grade after fall 2014 are required to choose an endorsement and complete an additional four credits in one of five areas: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), business & industry, public services, arts & humanities, or multidisciplinary studies. Like current diploma options, students and families may opt out of additional requirements after completion of the sophomore year and after consultation with high school counselors. Students who complete the Foundation Program, with or without an endorsement, are eligible for general admission to a Texas public 4-year institution. However, students who graduate without completing an endorsement and specific coursework may not meet admissions requirements at certain state colleges and universities.

Distinguished Level of Achievement

Graduates can earn the distinguished level of achievement designation by completing 26 credits including four credits in math (including credit in Algebra II), four credits in science, and completion of curriculum requirements for at least one endorsement. Receiving this designation gives students in the top 10% of their graduating class automatic admissions eligibility and priority for the need-based TEXAS grant, if financially qualified. 

Performance Acknowledgments

House Bill 5 requires the development of performance acknowledgments — awards that students may earn by completing certain programs of study or for receiving credit toward future college and career opportunities. Specific acknowledgments include, but are not limited to:

Degrees and Certificates
  • An earned associate degree
  • Business and industry recognized certification or license
Accelerated Learning Options
  • Dual credit (12 hours of credit with a GPA of 3.0 or higher)
  • Passing score on at least one AP or IB exam
  • Bilingualism (minimum GPA of the equivalent of 80 on a scale of a 100 in English language arts and minimum proficiency on Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, AP, or IB exams)
Performance on Standardized Tests
  • SAT scores of at least 410 on the reading section and 520 on the math section
  • ACT composite score of 28 or higher
  • Recognition as a commended scholar or higher by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation

Assessment Requirements

In 2006, Texas became the first state to mandate the use of college and career readiness standards through the Texas Essential Knowledge and Standards (TEKS). The state measures TEKS proficiency through the STAAR EOC assessments. The Texas Education Agency is in the process of developing “measures of student progress,” which will provide an early warning indicator for standards not on track to meet the passing standard on the EOC assessments or who may be unready for postsecondary study.

House Bill 5 requires districts to partner with at least one postsecondary institution to develop and provide college preparatory courses designed for high school seniors whose performance on an EOC assessment, college admissions or placement exam, (e.g., ACT/SAT or Texas Success Initiative Assessment), or coursework does not meet college readiness standards. Students who successfully complete a college preparatory course are eligible to enroll directly, without remediation or further assessment, in college-level coursework in the associated content area at the partnering postsecondary institution.

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) program requires passing scores on five end-of-course (EOC) exams to graduate: English I, English II, Algebra I, Biology I, and U.S. history. STAAR English III and Algebra II are now available for districts to administer as optional assessments. House Bill 3 requires scores on the EOCs to count as 15 percent of a student’s final course grade. A student who has failed the EOC assessment graduation requirements for no more than two courses may receive a Texas high school diploma if the student has qualified to graduate by means of an individual graduation committee (IGC) determination.