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State Requirements for High School Graduation

Picture of Susan Wise Bauer
Susan Wise Bauer

      (as referenced on page 16 of Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, by Susan Wise Bauer)

As you plan out your child’s high school curriculum, remember four things:

  1.  High school graduation requirements are state-mandated. There are no national high school graduation requirements.
  2. They’re constantly changing.
  3. They don’t actually apply to home educators.  Or private schools, unless those schools are pursuing state accreditation, which many don’t bother to do. (For more on this, see Chapter Two of my book Rethinking School.)
  4. It’s far more important to design high school around the child’s interests, abilities, and eventual college application than to follow state standards.

State standards can provide you with a useful template—as long as you’re willing to adjust the template to fit your student.  

Update 2022: In some cases, school districts make additions to the state standards, so that is worth checking, as are the standards required by target post-secondary education institutions.  You can also look at the graduation requirements of respected private schools. Nebraska sets its standards at the district level.

Use your search engine to find the high school graduation requirements for your state (or district or targeted post-secondary school or private school). Here are a couple of suggested search strings:

  • high school graduation requirements (my state) (my district) (the target university) (private school name)
  • high school credits graduation (my state) (my district) (the target university) (private school name)
  • admission requirement high school credit (target university) (private school)

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Susan Wise Bauer

Susan Wise Bauer is an educator, writer, and historian. She is the co-author of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (now in its fourth edition), and the author of (among others) The Well- Educated Mind, The Story of Western Science, the Story of the World series, the History of the World series, the elementary series Writing With Ease, and the pre-rhetoric series Writing With Skill. Susan was home educated through high school and has taught all four of her children at home. She has a B.A. and M.A. in English language and literature, an M.Div., and a Ph.D. in the history of American religion from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where she taught writing and literature for over fifteen years.

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