State Adopts New High School Graduation Requirements

STATE—The State Board of Education adopted revised high school graduation requirements on June 17, culminating a three-year effort to ensure that a New Jersey high school diploma reflects a level of student achievement that will lead to a successful future.

The new high school graduation requirements include a total of 120 credits and the infusion of 21st century skills across all content areas. New course requirements will be phased in as follows:

• Three years of mathematics, including algebra I, effective with the 2008-09 ninth-grade class; geometry, beginning with the 2010-11 ninth grade class; and a third year of math that builds upon these two courses, beginning with incoming freshmen in 2012-13;

• Three years of lab science, including biology, effective with the 2008-09 ninth grade class; a choice among chemistry, physics or environmental science, beginning with incoming freshmen in 2010-11; and a third inquiry-based lab or technical science, beginning with incoming freshmen in 2012-13; and

• One half-year of economics and financial literacy, beginning with incoming freshmen in 2010-11.

In related action, the board also adopted revised Core Curriculum Content Standards in six areas, assuring that the knowledge and skills students obtain in high school will prepare them for college or the workplace.

The revised Core Curriculum Content Standards for students in grades K-12 are in the following six areas: science, visual and performing arts, comprehensive health and physical education, technology, 21st century life and careers and world languages. The content standards serve as the state’s academic standards and are automatically reviewed every five years.

They also serve as the standard for measuring student achievement to determine whether individual schools and school districts are making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Local curricula must be aligned to the revised content standards in these six areas by September 1, 2012. Curricula must be aligned to previously approved K-12 content standards in science by September 1, 2011.

Together, the revised graduation requirements and revised content standards lay the cornerstone in the foundation for a planned re-design of New Jersey’s high schools to reflect new demands and expectations from employers and the higher education community.

“We have waited for this day with much excitement and anticipation,” said Commissioner of Education Lucille E. Davy. “The daunting idea of transforming our high schools to meet the demands of the 21st century has been the subject of a thorough, open process that has taken place over many months.

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