Graduation Requirements for 2013-2014 Seniors

Word version

I want to inform you of my intent to file rules that would allow students completing the fourth year of high school during the 2013-2014 school year to graduate under the new Foundation High School Program as permitted by Section 28.025(h-2), Texas Education Code, as added by House Bill (HB) 5, passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature, 2013, and signed into law by Governor Perry.

While the majority of seniors this year will continue to graduate under the existing Minimum High School Program (MHSP), Recommended High School Program (RHSP), and Distinguished Achievement Program (DAP), a small group of students may meet the requirements for the new Foundation High School Program and choose to graduate under that program. However, the requirements for the endorsements and performance acknowledgments have not yet been determined by the State Board of Education (SBOE). Consequently, a student who chooses to graduate under the Foundation High School Program in 2013-2014 will earn a foundation diploma only and will not have the option to earn an endorsement, the distinguished level of achievement, or a performance acknowledgment.

The proposed rules will only apply to the small group of students who are able to complete the coursework required to graduate under the Foundation High School Program in 2013-2014, choose this option, and graduate in the 2013-2014 school year. This includes students who complete the required coursework during the summer of 2014, but not thereafter.

The SBOE has sole authority to determine the curriculum requirements for all the endorsement options and performance acknowledgments. The SBOE is actively working to adopt rules to specify the curriculum requirements for the foundation high school program and related components that will be fully implemented beginning with the 2014-2015 school year with final decisions expected in January 2014.

To help planning and communication with students and parents, please find attached an outline of what the proposed rule will include for those students completing their fourth year of high school and wishing to graduate under the Foundation High School Program in the 2013-2014 school year. Please note that once the rules are filed in the coming weeks, they will be subject to public comment. Changes will be made, as appropriate, in response to those public comments, and then the rules will be adopted as final.

Before making a final decision regarding the graduation program they will pursue, I would strongly encourage students - especially those who are planning to pursue a degree in higher education - and their parents to consider the benefits of taking additional advanced math and science courses required by the current four-by-four and to fully research required or recommended coursework for admission to at any higher education institution they have interest in attending.

Please note that students who were first-time 9th graders before the 2011-2012 school year must meet the established performance standards for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) to be eligible to graduate from a Texas public school. This graduation requirement is applicable to the majority of students who are currently classified as seniors. The assessment requirements for this group of students have not changed.

The SBOE is likely to make different decisions about the Foundation High School Program requirements that will be in effect in future years, but the decisions reflected in the attachment and upcoming rule proposal try to maintain the previous decisions of the SBOE to the greatest extent possible. You may stay informed about developments concerning the HB 5 graduation requirements at the following website:


Michael Williams
Commissioner of Education


Attachment - Proposed Graduation Program Options for Students Graduating in 2013-2014