The new law replaces the current three high school graduation plans
(Minimum, Recommended, and Distinguished Achievement) with one
Foundation program, on top of which students can earn endorsements and a
"Distinguished Level of Achievement." (See TEA's side-by-side comparison chart of current graduation requirements and HB 5 requirements to be implemented in 2014-15.)
The new law makes earning an endorsement on top of the Foundation plan the default high school graduation plan for students, requiring that students entering grade 9 specify in writing which endorsement they intend to earn. Students can choose to graduate under the Foundation program alone (with no endorsement) only upon written permission of their parents and only after the sophomore year.
Foundation Program Required Course Credits
- Four English language arts, including ELA I, I, III and an advanced course
- Three math, including Algebra I, Geometry, and an advanced course
- Three science, including Biology, an advanced course, and either another advanced course or Integrated Physics and Chemistry
- Three social studies, including U.S. History, one-half credit for Government, one-half credit for Economics, one credit for World Geography or World History (Students can complete a combined World History/World Geography course to meet this requirement.)
- Two foreign language (Students can substitute two credits of computer programming languages to meet this requirement.)
- One fine arts
- One PE
- Five electives
To earn any endorsement, students must successfully complete four credits each of math and science (the three required under the Foundation program plus an additional advanced math and an additional advance science course or advanced CTE course), and seven electives (the five required under the Foundation program plus an additional two).
Endorsement options include:
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) - includes courses
directly related to science, including environmental science,
technology, computer science, engineering, and advanced mathematics.
Business and Industry - includes courses directly related to database management, information technology, communications, accounting, finance, marketing, graphic design, architecture, construction, welding, logistics, automotive technology, agricultural science, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning.
Public Services - includes courses directly related to health sciences and occupations, education and training, law enforcement, and culinary arts and hospitality.
Arts and Humanities - includes courses directly related to political science, world languages, cultural studies, English literature, history, and fine arts. (A student pursuing an Arts and Humanities endorsement can, with written parental permission, substitute an advanced course related to the fourth science credit for the fourth science credit.)
Multidisciplinary Studies - allows a student to select courses from the curriculum of each endorsement area described above and earn credits in a variety of advanced courses from multiple content areas sufficient to complete the Distinguished Level of Achievement under the Foundation program.
Distinguished Level of Achievement
Students can earn a Distinguished Level of Achievement under the Foundation program by completing four credits in math (must include Algebra II) and four credits in science, and obtaining at least one endorsement.
A student who has completed the core curriculum of an institution of higher education, as certified by the institution in accordance with commissioner rule, is considered to have earned a Distinguished Level of Achievement under the Foundation program and is entitled to receive a high school diploma from the appropriate high school, as that high school is determined in accordance with commissioner rule. A student who is considered to have earned a Distinguished Level of Achievement under the Foundation program in this situation may apply for admission to an institution of higher education for the first semester or other academic term after the semester or other academic term in which the student completes the core curriculum.
Students can earn a performance acknowledgement on their diploma and transcript for outstanding performance in a dual-credit course, bilingualism and biliteracy, on a college advanced placement test or IB exam, or on the PSAT, ACT-Plan, SAT, ACT, or for earning a nationally or internationally recognized business or industry certification or license.