OLR Research Report

January 12, 2009




By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst

This report summarizes the major components of the State Board of Education's (SBE) secondary school reform proposal.

The plan increases the minimum number of credits required to graduate from high school from the current 20 to 25 (see table below).

Each student must complete a locally determined "capstone project" that includes research, written, and presentation components.

Each student must have a “student success plan” beginning in grade 6.

The state must provide model curricula for many courses.

Students must complete state-developed, locally scored, end-of-course final exams for five required courses (Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology/Life Science, English 2, and American History).

State-developed final exams must count at least 20% of final grade.

The proposal seeks to increase the significance of middle school (grades 6 to 8) and align middle school requirements with new high school requirements.

The proposal includes professional development for teachers and administrators, coordination with higher education institutions, and support for new technology for schools and school districts.

Table 1: Proposed New High School Graduation Requirements

Subject Area

Current Requirement

( 10-221a)

SBE Proposal


4 Credits

4 Credits

● English language arts 1

● English language arts 2

● Literature & Composition

● Full-year elective

Social Studies

3 Credits

● 0.5 in civics and American government

● U.S. History ( 10-18a)

3 Credits

● International/World Studies

● American History

● Civics (0.5)

Arts of vocational education

1 Credit

1 Credit

Fine arts: Art, music theater, dance

Required Humanities elective

0 Credits

1 Credit


3 Credits

4 Credits

● Algebra 1

● Geometry

● Algebra 2 or Statistics & Probability

● Calculus, Trigonometry, or other full-year course


2 Credits

3 Credits – lab sciences

● Biology/Life Science

● Chemistry/Physical Science

● Physical Science, Life Science, or Earth Science

Science or math full-year elective

0 Credit

1 Credit

Physical Education

1 Credit

1 Credit

Health Education

0 Credit

0.5 Credit

Career and Life Skills Electives

0 Credit

2 Credits

Open Electives

5 Credits

3.5 Credits

Capstone Experience

0 Credit

1 Credits


20 Credits

25 Credits