topleft >  Services >  Governance Technology > 

Petaluma City Schools |  BP  6146.1  Instruction

High School Graduation Requirements   

arrow Previous bar Next arrow

Cautionary Notice: As added and amended by SBX3 4 (Ch. 12, Third Extraordinary Session, Statutes of 2009), ABX4 2 (Ch. 2, Fourth Extraordinary Session, Statutes of 2009), and SB 70 (Ch. 7, Statutes of 2011), Education Code 42605 grants districts flexibility in "Tier 3" categorical programs. The Petaluma City Schools has accepted this flexibility and thus is deemed in compliance with the statutory or regulatory program and funding requirements for these programs for the 2008-09 through 2014-15 fiscal years. As a result, the district may temporarily suspend certain provisions of the following policy or regulation that reflect these requirements. For further information, please contact the Superintendent or designee.

The Board of Education desires to prepare each student to obtain a diploma of high school graduation in order to provide students with opportunities for postsecondary education and/or employment.

Course Requirements

A student who is enrolled at a district high school shall be eligible to receive a diploma of graduation from that district high school upon successful completion of 220 units, with each course being one year unless otherwise specified including the following requirements while the student is in grades 9 through 12:

1. Four courses (40 semester units) in English;

2. Two courses (20 semester units) in Mathematics, including Algebra I or equivalent;

Beginning in the 2003-04 school year, at least one mathematics course, or a combination of the two mathematics courses required for completion in grades 9-12, shall meet or exceed state academic content standards for Algebra I (Education Code 51224.5)

Completion, prior to grade 9, of algebra coursework that meets or exceeds state academic content standards shall not exempt a student from the requirement to complete two mathematics courses in grades 9-12. (Education Code 51224.5)

3. Two courses (20 semester units) in Science, including one year each in Biological (10 semester units) and Physical Science (10 semester units);

4. Three courses (30 semester units) in History-Social Science, including United States History and Geography (10 semester units); World History, Culture and Geography (10 semester units); plus one semester each of United States/American Government (5 semester units) and Economics (5 semester units);

5. One course in visual or performing arts, foreign language, including American Sign Language, or career technical education (Education Code 51225.3)

To be counted towards meeting graduation requirements, a course in career technical education shall be aligned to the A-G requirements for the University of California and may be used to replace only the Visual and Performing Arts option.

6. Two courses (20 semester units) in Physical Education, unless exempted pursuant to the provisions of the California Education Code.

Because the prescribed course of study may not accommodate the needs of some students, the Board shall provide alternative means for the completion of prescribed courses in accordance with law.

7. One course (5 semester units) in Human Interaction; and

8. In addition to successfully completing two courses each in Science and Mathematics, a student must complete one of the following options:

a. A third course in mathematics; or

b. A course in a Math-related subject; or

c. A third course in Science; or

d. A course in a Science-related subject; or

e. Two separate one semester courses selected from Math elective, Math-related, Science elective, or Science-related subjects.

A student may receive up to five units per semester and 10 units per year upon the successful completion of each course.

A student entering his/her fourth year of high school must have earned a minimum of 160 semester units prior to the first day of the school year in order to be classified as a senior.

Promotion Requirements - Junior High School

Students in grades 7 and 8 must successfully complete the course of study shown below, in items 1 through 6, to be eligible for promotion to grade 9.

1. Two year long courses in English;

2. Two year long courses in Mathematics;

3. Two year long courses in Social Science;

4. Two year long courses in Physical Education;

5. Two year long courses in Science; and

6. Two year long courses in elective subjects.

Special Education students who have completed their prescribed course of study are eligible for promotion to grade 9.

Transfer Policy: Students who have completed grade 8 and have not successfully completed the above requirements may be transferred to an approved alternative program or to a high school with the approval of the principals involved. Students who have not successfully completed the required course of study, but who will be fifteen years of age by the first day of the fall semester, may be transferred to a high school with the approval of both principals involved. Parents/guardians of students involved in any transfer will be notified by the appropriate personnel from the junior high school prior to the actual transfer.

High School Exit Examination

Each student completing grade 12 shall have successfully passed the state exit examination in language arts and mathematics as a condition of high school graduation. (Education Code 60851, 60859

Supplemental instruction shall be offered to any student in grade 7-12 who does not demonstrate "sufficient progress" as defined in Board policy, toward passing the exit exam.

Students who have not passed one or both parts of the exit exam by the end of grade 12 shall have the opportunity to receive intensive instruction and services for up to two consecutive academic years after completion of grade 12 or until they have passed both parts of the exam, whichever comes first. (Education Code 37254

Certificates of Coursework Completion

The Board of Education desires that every student shall have the opportunity to earn recognition of achievement for successful completion of the prescribed course of study thereby meeting standards of proficiency established by the Board of Education.

Students who have passed all the district's course requirements by the end of their senior year but are unable to pass the high school exit examination shall receive a "Certificate of Coursework Completion." instead of a diploma and shall be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies.

Retroactive Diplomas

The district may retroactively grant a high school diploma to a former student who was interned by order of the federal government during World War II or who is an honorably discharged veteran of World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, provided that he/she was enrolled in a district school immediately preceding the internment or military service and he/she did not receive a diploma because his/her education was interrupted due to the internment or military service.

In addition, the Board may retroactively grant a diploma to a deceased former student who satisfies the above conditions. The diploma shall be received by the deceased student's next of kin.

Legal Reference:


35186 Williams Uniform Complaint Procedures

37252 Supplemental instructional programs

37254 Supplemental instruction based on failure to pass exit exam by end of grade 12

37254.1 Required student participation in supplemental instruction

47612 Enrollment in charter school

48200 Compulsory attendance

48412 Certificate of proficiency

48430 Continuation education schools and classes

48645.5 Acceptance of coursework

48980 Required notification at beginning of term

49701 Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

51224 Skills and knowledge required for adult life

51224.5 Algebra instruction

51225.3 Requirements for graduation

51225.5 Honorary diplomas; foreign exchange students

51228 Graduation requirements

51240-51246 Exemptions from requirements

51250-51251 Assistance to military dependents

51410-51412 Diplomas

51420-51427 High school equivalency certificates

51450-51455 Golden State Seal Merit Diploma

51745 Independent study restrictions

52378 Supplemental school counseling program

56390-56392 Recognition for educational achievement, special education

60850-60859 High school exit examination

66204 Certification of high school courses as meeting university admissions criteria


1600-1651 Graduation of students from grade 12 and credit toward graduation


O'Connell v. Superior Court (Valenzuela), (2006) 141 Cal.App.4th 1452

Management Resources:



California Department of Education, High School:

University of California, List of Approved a-g Courses:


adopted: February 28, 2006 Petaluma, California

revised: June 26, 2012