Pennsylvania High School Diploma Program Requirements
In order to graduate from high school, students in Pennsylvania must accumulate a set number of credits in subjects like English, math, science and physical education. Additionally, they must complete a state-required project and take exit examinations.
What is Required to Obtain a High School Diploma in Pennsylvania?
Students in Pennsylvania must accumulate at least 120 credit hours in English, science, social studies, mathematics, health and physical education, arts and humanities to earn a high school diploma. They also must choose at least five approved courses in music, art, computer science, home economics, industrial arts, foreign language, or business, consumer or vocational education.
Pennsylvania secondary students must complete a state-required culminating project by the end of their senior year. Students can usually begin working on the project in their sophomore year and typically collaborate with a mentor from the project's initial development to its completion.
Before work on the project can begin, students must submit a written proposal to their faculty mentor, who must approve the project before the student can move on. The project serves as an opportunity for students to showcase their talents and interests. It also tests their abilities to go beyond what is taught in a conventional high school curriculum.
Starting in the 2010-11 school year, Pennsylvania high school students will be required to pass exit examinations. These exams aim to ensure that students are prepared for life beyond high school, including entering the job market or pursuing postsecondary education.
Initial tests will cover English literature, biology and algebra. Other subject areas will be phased in each academic year through 2016-17, for a total of ten exams. Each school district will have the option of using state-developed exams or administering its own.
Exit exams will count for 30% of a student's final course grade. Those who fail will have the opportunity to retake an exam twice. Those who fail the second retake will be able to seek alternative options, such as taking AP exams or completing a project that meets the approval of district officials. Some students with disabilities will be exempt from taking exit examinations.
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