Tennessee Readiness Policies


College and Career Readiness Standards and Definition

Tennessee’s college- and career- readiness standards define the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in postsecondary study or careers. The state implemented the Tennessee Diploma Project (TDP) in 2009 as part of an initiative to raise academic standards and better align high school curricula with postsecondary expectations. To receive a regular high school diploma, all students must complete a 22-credit curriculum and, beginning with the graduating class of 2018, complete the ACT or SAT in their junior year of high school. Students who choose to retake a college-readiness exam (ACT or SAT) in their senior year can do so free of cost on a specified state testing date, regardless of socioeconomic status. Through the Tennessee Response to Instruction and Intervention Framework (RTI2) schools, at all grade levels, are directed to use data from a variety of sources to develop Early Warning Systems (EWS). The data from the EWS is used to identify students in need of skills-specific interventions, remediation, re-teaching and enrichment. The goal is for every student to graduate from high school ready for college and career.



High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Students must complete at least 22 units to earn a regular high school diploma.



Required Courses




English I

English II

English III

English IV 

AP, IB, or dual enrollment English courses or Advanced Composition



Algebra I

Algebra II


Fourth math

AP, IB, or dual enrollment math courses




Chemistry or Physics

One additional lab science

AP, IB, or dual enrollment science courses

Social Studies


U.S. History and Geography   

1/2 Credit Economics

1/2 Credit U.S.  Government 

World History and Geography

IB or dual enrollment social studies courses

Personal Finance



 Three years of Junior ROTC

Physical Education



Not specified

Fine Arts



May be waived by the local school district under certain circumstances, to expand elective focus

Foreign Language



May be waived by the local school district under certain circumstances, to expand elective focus




Math and science, Career and Technical Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, AP or IB courses

Total Credits 22    
Graduation with State Distinction

Students graduate with “state distinction” when they attain a “B” or better grade point average and accomplish one of the following:

  • Earn a nationally recognized industry certification
  • Participate in at least one of the Governor’s Schools or ALL State musical organization
  • Be selected as a National Merit Finalist or Semifinalist
  • Score a 31 or higher on the ACT Composite Score
  • Earn a three or higher on two Advanced Placement (AP) exams
  • Successfully complete the International Baccalaureate Programme
  • Complete at least 12 semester hours of postsecondary credit

Assessment Requirements

Tennessee administers at least nine regular End of Course (EOC) exams as part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP): English I/II/III, Algebra I/II, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry, U.S. History & Geography. Exam results count for 25 percent a student’s final course grade. Passing the EOC exams is not required to graduate from high school. To obtain a degree, all students in grade 11 must take either the ACT or SAT. Beginning in 2017, all high school students will be given a U.S. Civics test. However, a passing grade is not required to receive a regular diploma.