Earning Your High School Diploma - Tennessee

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Tennessee is dedicated to ensuring the best possible education for all its high school students. The state's curriculum is designed to challenge students for today and prepare them for tomorrow. Learn the state's requirements for high school graduation by reading this article.
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Tennessee is a great place to learn for high school students! According to the National Education Association (www.nea.org), more Tennessee students are scoring well on SAT exams. High scores on the Verbal portion of the SAT have increased 28% since 1994 and high Math scores have increased 28% since 1996. (High scores are defined as those of 600 or more.)

Tennessee High School Core Curriculum

The Tennessee Department of Education requires the following core courses for high schools:

  • 4 units of English
  • 3 units of Mathematics (all students must complete one of the following: Technical Algebra, Algebra I, or Integrated Math I)
  • 3 units of Science (all students must complete either Biology, Biology for Technology, or an equivalent and one course in physical sciences)
  • 3 units of Social Studies
  • 1 unit of Health, Physical Fitness, and Wellness.

Tennessee Gateway Exams

Ten high school courses have been designated for end-of-course exams. Three of these courses - Algebra I, Biology I and English II - are required for graduation, so these tests are known as Gateway Tests. The tests serve as end-of-course tests for students enrolled in the class and as diploma requirements for students who have entered as freshmen starting in the 2001-02 school year.

All students in the state of Tennessee, planning to graduate in 2005, must pass all three Gateway exams to earn a diploma. Students will take a Gateway exam upon completion of the corresponding course in Algebra I, Biology I, or English II.

The End-of-Course Assessment Program consists of the remaining seven courses designated for testing by the State Board. These courses include English I, Math Foundations II, Algebra II, Physical Science, Chemistry, Geometry, and U.S. History.

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