What classes are required to graduate high school

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What classes are required to graduate high school

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The following question was submitted to John Roska, an attorney/writer whose weekly newspaper column, "The Law Q&A," ran inthe Champaign News Gazette.

Question

I want to know whats required to graduate from high school in Illinois? Where can I find that information?

Answer

The state sets bare minimums for the type and number of courses students must pass to graduate. Schools are free to increase their requirements. Its possible, but probably unlikely, for a local school to require more than the states minimum.

The Illinois School Code is located at Act 5 of Chapter 105 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes. Article 27 of the School Code covers Courses of Study.

Drilling down to Section 27-22 finally gets you to Required High School Courses. There, youll find what Illinois law requires for graduation:

  • 4 years of language arts;
  • 3 years of math;
  • 2 years each of social studies, science, and writing intensive courses; and
  • 1 year chosen from
  • music,
  • art,
  • foreign language, or
  • vocational education.

One year of math must be Algebra I, and another must include geometry content. A year of the intensive writing course must be in English; another year could be in some other subject.

Thats a total of 12 year-long academic classes specifically required to graduate.

Elsewhere, the law requires all public school students to take daily P.E. (You can be excused from P.E. for

  • being on an athletic team or in marching band, and
  • to take a class needed to get into the college of your choice, or
  • a class needed to graduate.)

So, thats 16 units of required classes in high school. Thats what the regulations say is the minimum number of units required to graduate.

Starting in the 2028-2029 school year, high school students will be required to take 2 years of a foreign language. This may include American Sign Language.

But, regulations buried beneath the law also require a semester of health education and a half-semester of consumer education. If those arent somehow included in other courses, they add another .75 units of required classes, for a total of 16.75 required units.

The law also says every public school teacher shall teach character education, but doesnt set specific requirements.

The law breaks down the class subject requirements a little bit. One year of math could be an advanced placement computer science course. One year of social studies must be American history or a combination of American history and government. One semester of social studies must be on civics.

The only test* a student must pass for a high school diploma is one on American patriotism, the principles of representative government, . . . and the proper use and display of the American flag.

Nothing clearly says how long a class must last each day to count as a class that counts towards graduation. The lengthy provisions on how to figure a school day for funding purposes hint that 40 minutes is a class hour. Thats different from a clock hour, of which 5 are required to make a full day for attendance purposes.

Schools must have on file . . . a description of all course offerings that may comply with the requirements of the law. Schools must also provide parents with timely and periodic information concerning graduation requirements. This is especially true if your kids graduation may be in question.

Illinois also requires that all high school students take a statewide assessment (test). Starting in the 2016-2017 school year, the SAT with the essay is the required statewide test in Illinois high schools. All public school students enrolled in grade 11 will take the SATor the DLM-AA, an alternate test for students with significant cognitivedisabilities. See details about accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Editor's note, April 2021: Illinois now alsorequires aFree Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form be filled out orbe waivedby the student.Last reviewedFebruary 22, 2018Last revisedApril 07, 2021

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FAFSA

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/22/2021 - 12:58Illinois Law now requires every public high school student over age 18 (or their parent if student is younger than 18 yrs old) must file the FAFSA to get their diploma. If they choose not to file, then they must complete a Non-Participation Form and return to the school indicating they decline filing the FAFSA. Link to more info can be found under State Law Public Act 101-0180, https://ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=101-0180

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Submitted by Karla Baldwin on Fri, 01/22/2021 - 15:47Hello and thanks for your comment. This information has been forwarded to our content director for review. We rely on users like you to help us keep our content up-to-date and accurate.

Worried about doing this on your own? You may be able to get free legal help.Apply Online

Part of the equal education library, sponsored by Jenner & Block.

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Note: Covid-19 is changing many areas of the law. Visit our Covid-19 articlesfor the latest information.

Learn moreDifference between dismissed with or without prejudiceFiling court papers for free

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