Graduation Requirements and Diploma Options

  • Wilson County Schools has four diploma options in 2022-2023:

    REGULAR HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA
    Wilson County Schools’ students must complete 26 credits to graduate with a regular high school diploma.
    Graduation Requirements

      1. Mathematics:  4 Credits - Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and a fourth higher-level math course. (Students must be enrolled in a mathematics course each school year.)

        • Physics may count as a 4th math credit as long as the student has earned Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II credits.
        • Advanced Placement Calculus, Advanced Placement Statistics, Advanced Placement Computer Science, and Advanced Placement Physics may replace the fourth math credit.
        • Statewide Dual Credit Pre-Calculus or Statewide Dual Credit Statistics may replace the fourth math credit.
        • Dual Enrollment Math courses may count for the fourth math course.  
        • *CTE Course Substitutions for a fourth level math course

          •  Principles of Agribusiness 
          •  Agriculture & Biosystems Engineering
      2. English:  4 Credits - English I, English II, English III, and English IV
        • Advanced Placement Language and Composition and Advanced Placement Literature may replace English III or English IV.
        • Advanced Placement Seminar combined with Advanced Placement Research may replace English IV.
        • Dual Enrollment English courses may count for English III and/or English IV
      3. Science:  3 Credits - Biology, Chemistry or Physics, and a third lab course
        • Advanced Placement science courses, including Advanced Placement Computer Science, may count as a third lab science.
        • Dual Enrollment science courses may count for a third lab science. 
        • *CTE Course Substitutions for a third lab course

          • SDC: Introduction to Plant Science 
          • Agriscience
          • Engineering Design 1
          • Engineering Design 2
          • Nutrition Science & Diet Therapy
          • Human Anatomy & Physiology
          • Veterinary Science
          • Food Science & Safety 
          • BIOSTEM I-III
          • Advanced Food Science
          • Plant & Soil Science
      4. Social Studies: 3 Credits - World History, American History, Economics, and U.S. Government and Civics
        • Advanced Placement Human Geography, Advanced Placement World History, or Advanced Placement European History may replace World History. 
        • Advanced Placement U.S. History may replace American History.
        • Advanced Placement Macroeconomics or Advanced Placement Microeconomics may replace Economics.
        • Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics or Advanced Placement Comparative Government may replace U.S. Government and Civics.  
        • Statewide Dual Credit World History and Statewide Dual Credit American History may replace World History and American History, respectively.
        • Dual Enrollment social studies courses may replace social studies requirements if aligned with required courses.
        • *CTE Course Substitutions for Economics or Government Course requirements

          • Agricultural Business & Finance (Economics)
          • Business Economics (Economics)
          • Entrepreneurship (Economics)
          • Marketing & Management I (Economics)
          • Retail Operations (Economics)
          • American Business Legal Systems (U.S. Government) 
          • *JROTC Course Substitutions:
            • 3 years of JROTC will substitute for U.S. Government course.
      5. Lifetime Wellness:  1 Credit
        • *JROTC Course Substitutions: 
          • 2 years of JROTC will substitute for Lifetime Wellness.
      6. Physical Education:  .5 Credit
        • This requirement may be waived if a student provides the school counseling office with 40 hours of documented physical activity in one of the following: any TSSAA recognized sport, school-based cheerleading, school-based dance squad, school-based marching band. 
        • *JROTC Course Substitutions:
          • 2 years of JROTC will substitute for .5 credit of Physical Education.
      7. Personal Finance:  .5 Credit
      8. World Language:  2 Credits (in the same language)
        • This requirement may be waived if the student proves proficiency in a second language through a nationally normed world language proficiency test or if the student is approved for a world language waiver request and earns 2 additional courses in the student's elective focus area.
      9. Fine Arts:  1 Credit
        • This requirement may be waived if a student is approved for a Fine Art waiver request and earns an additional elective focus credit.
        • Advanced Placement Art and Music courses may replace 
        • *CTE Course Substitutions for a Fine Arts Credit

          • Landscaping & Turf Science
          • Digital Arts I
          • Web Design Foundations
      10. Elective Focus*: 3 credits - Three (3) credits must be earned in one of the programs of study listed below. These credits are in addition to the other required credits for graduation.

      11. Additional 4 Credits
    • NOTE: If a student receives a waiver for a graduation requirement, the student does not earn credit for the course. The student must earn additional credits to meet the required 26 credits for graduation.
      Many colleges and universities have admissions requirements for world language and fine arts credits. Therefore, students should research admissions requirements for college and universities of interest before selecting to waive their world language or fine arts courses for elective offerings.
      Other Graduation Requirements
      1. College Entrance Exam: All students must take either the ACT or SAT. The ACT is provided for free in the student's junior and senior year.
      2. U.S. Civics Assessment: All students must take and pass a U.S. Civics assessment.
      3. Civics Project-Based Assessment: All students must complete a civics-based project.
    • Elective Focus Guidelines
      An Elective Focus is a focused program of study. Three (3) credits must be earned in one of the programs of study listed below. These 3 credits are in addition to the required credits for graduation.
      The Elective Focus areas are:
      1. Math / Science
        • This includes any Math or Science class above and beyond the seven (7) required Math and Science courses for graduation. A student must earn a minimum of 10 (ten) credits in Math / Science to have a Math / Science Elective Focus.
      2. Humanities and Fine Arts
        • This includes any Social Studies, English, World Language, music, band, chorus, theatre, art, or dance class above and beyond the one (1) Fine Arts credit required for graduation, the (4) required English courses for graduation, the (4) required Social Studies courses for graduation and the (2) required World Language courses for graduation.
      3. JROTC
        • Successful completion of 2 years of JROTC will fulfill the Liftetime Wellness and Physical Education graduation requirements. 
        • Successful completion of 3 years of JROTC will fulfill the Lifetime Wellness, Physical Education, Personal Finance, and U.S. Government requirements along with the elective focus requirement. A minimum of 3 complete years of  JROTC credits are required to receive an elective focus in JROTC.
      4. Career Technical Education (CTE)
    •             This includes three courses in the same CTE Focus Area.
      1. Advanced Manufacturing 
      2. Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources
      3. Architecture & Construction
      4. Arts, Audiovisual Technology, and Communications
      5. Business Management & Administration, Finance, Marketing
      6. Education & Training
      7. Health Science
      8. Hospitality & Tourism
      9. Information Technology
      10. Law, Public Safety, Corrections, & Security
      11. Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM)
      12. Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics
    •  
      1. Advanced Placement
    •            In order to achieve an Elective Focus in Advanced Placement, students must take at least three Advanced Placement courses and complete the three Advanced Placement Tests for those courses.
      1. Dual Enrollment
    •           In order to achieve an Elective Focus in Dual Enrollment, students must earn credit in at least 3 Dual Enrollment courses.
      OCCUPATIONAL DIPLOMA
      An occupational diploma may be awarded to students with disabilities at the end of their fourth (4th) year of high school who have
      1. not met the requirements for a regular high school diploma;
      2. received special education services or supports and made satisfactory progress on an IEP;
      3. have satisfactory records of attendance and conduct;
      4. have completed the occupational diploma Skills, Knowledge, and Experience Mastery Assessment (SKEMA) created by the Tennessee Department of Education; and
      5. have completed two (2) years of paid or non-paid work experience.
    • The determination that an occupational diploma is the goal for a student with a disability will be made at the conclusion of the student’s tenth (10th) grade year or two (2) academic years prior to the expected graduation date. Students who obtain the occupational diploma may continue to work toward a regular high school diploma through the end of the school year in which they turn twenty-two (22) years old.
      GRADUATION CEREMONY AND POLICIES
    • GRADUATION CEREMONY
      In order to participate in the commencement exercises (graduation), a student must fulfill all graduation requirements as stipulated by the Tennessee Department of Education and the Wilson County Board of Education.
      VALEDICTORIAN & SALUTATORIAN STATUS
      To be eligible for either Valedictorian or Salutatorian, students who enrolled as ninth graders in 2018 and thereafter must meet the requirements as outlined in Board Policy 4.602.
      EARLY GRADUATION
      Move on When Ready (TDOE Policy)
      The Move on When Ready Act provides public high school students who wish to graduate early with the opportunity to graduate high school early and gain entry into a postsecondary institution.  A public high school student may complete an early high school graduation program and be eligible for unconditional entry into a public two (2)-year institution of higher education or conditional entry into a public four (4)-year institution of higher education, if the student fulfills each of the following requirements:
      1. Earns eighteen (18) credits that include:
      2. English I, II, III, and IV
      3. Algebra I and II
      4. Geometry
      5. United States History
      6. Two (2) courses in the same world language;
      7. One (1) course selected from:
    • (i) Economics
      (ii) Government
      (iii) World Civilizations
      (iv) World Geography
      1. One (1) course selected from:
    • (i) History and appreciation of visual and performing arts
      (ii) A standards-based arts course, which may include studio art, band,
      chorus, dance, or other performing arts
      1. Health and Physical Education (Wellness)
      2. Biology
      3. Chemistry
      4. Has a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 on the Uniform Grading System four (4) point scale;
    • iii. Scores at the on-track or mastered level on each end-of-course assessment taken
      1. Meets benchmark scores of twenty-one (21) or higher composite score on the ACT or an equivalent score on the SAT;
      2. Achieves a passing score on a nationally recognized world language proficiency assessment; and
      3. Completes two (2) early postsecondary courses.
    • *A student pursuing early graduation through the Move on When Ready program may take two (2) high school English courses in an academic year.
      *A student pursuing early graduation through the Move on When Ready program shall complete an intent form available from the Department of Education and submit it to her or his high school principal and the Department of Education. Intent Form
      For other early graduation opportunities, please refer to policy 4.203.
    •  
    • ALTERNATE ACADEMIC DIPLOMA
      Beginning with students entering the ninth (9th) grade in 2018, an alternate academic diploma may be awarded to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities at the end of their fourth (4th) year of high school2 who have
      1. participated in the high school alternate assessments;
      2. earned the prescribed twenty-two (22) credit minimum;
      3. received special education services or supports and made satisfactory progress on an IEP;
      4. have satisfactory records of attendance and conduct; and
      5. have completed a transition assessment(s) that measures, at a minimum, postsecondary education and training, employment, independent living, and community involvement.
    • The required credits may be earned either through the state- approved standards or through alternate academic diploma course requirements defined by the Department of Education. A student who earns an alternate academic diploma shall continue to be eligible for special education services under IDEA until the student receives a regular high school diploma or through the school year in which the student turns twenty-two (22).
      SPECIAL EDUCATION DIPLOMA
      A special education diploma shall be awarded at the end of the fourth (4th) year of high school to students with disabilities who have:
      1. Received special education services or supports and made satisfactory progress on an individualized education program (IEP);
      2. Not met the requirements for a regular high school diploma; and
      3. Have satisfactory records of attendance and conduct.
    • Students who obtain the special education diploma may continue to work toward a regular high school diploma through the end of the school year in which they turn twenty-two (22) years old.



    ​​GRADUATING WITH HONORS OR DISTINCTION

    • Graduation with Honors
      Students who score at or above all of the subject area readiness benchmarks on the ACT or equivalent score on the SAT will graduate with honors. The ACT benchmarks are as follows:
      English – 18
      Math – 22
      Reading - 22
      Science – 23

    • Graduation with Distinction
      Students will be recognized as graduating with “distinction” by attaining a B (3.0 cumulative GPA or above) average and completing at least one of the following:
      • Earn a nationally and or state recognized industry certification
      • Participate in at least one (1) of the Governor’s Schools
      • Participate in one (1) of the state’s All State musical organizations
      • Earn statewide recognition or award at a skill- or knowledge-based state tournament, convention, or competition hosted by a statewide student organization, and/or qualify for national recognition by a national student organization
      • Be selected as a National Merit Finalist or Semi-Finalist
      • Attain a score of thirty-one (31) or higher composite score on the ACT or SAT equivalent
      • Attain a score of three (3) or higher on at least two Advanced Placement exams
      • Earn 12 or more semester hours of college credit as indicated on high school transcript.
    • *Students graduating with a gold or platinum medal on National Career Readiness Certificate (WorkKeys) shall be recognized.
      *Students who voluntarily complete at least ten (10) hours of community service each semester the student is in attendance at a public high school shall be recognized.
      Tri-Star Scholar
      A student who earns the following shall be recognized by placing an appropriate designation on the student’s diploma and by the student’s name in the school’s graduation program:
      • a composite score of nineteen (19) or higher on the ACT, or an equivalent score on the SAT
      • capstone industry certification as promoted by the Department of Education
    • Tennessee Seal of Biliteracy
      Students who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one (1) or more languages in addition to English shall be recognized with a Seal of Biliteracy of high school diploma.
      Students receiving this recognition shall meet the following criteria:
      • Complete all English language arts (ELA) requirements for graduation with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher in those classes;
      • Demonstrate English proficiency through one (1) of the following:
      • Score at the on-track or mastered level on each ELA end-of-course assessment taken;
      • Score three (3) or higher on an Advanced Placement English Language or English Literature exam; B1 or higher on a Cambridge International English exam; or four (4) or higher on an International Baccalaureate English exam;
      • Score 22 or higher on the ACT Reading subtest or 480 or higher on the SAT evidence- based reading and writing subtest; or
      • Score 4.5 or higher on the WIDA Access, if the student is an English learner; and
    • Demonstrate proficiency in a world language through one (1) of the following:
      • Score Intermediate-Mid or higher in all three (3) communication modes (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational) on a world language proficiency assessment recognized by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
      • Score three (3) or higher on an Advanced Placement world language exam; B1 or higher on a Cambridge International world language exam; or four (4) or higher on an International Baccalaureate world language exam;
      • Score at the Intermediate level or higher on the Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI: ASL);
      • Pass a foreign government's approved non-English language exam, or score at a level comparable to Intermediate-mid or higher on the ACTFL proficiency scale on another country’s secondary level standardized exam in the country’s non- English native language; or
      • Score at a level comparable to Intermediate-Mid or higher on the ACTFL proficiency scale on an LEA developed alternate model. Alternate models may only be used if the identified world language does not have an associated nationally recognized assessment and must address communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.
    • Other Graduation Recognitions
      • Students who voluntarily complete at least ten (10) hours of community service each semester the student is in attendance at a public high school shall be recognized at their graduation ceremony.
      • Students graduating with a gold or platinum medal on National Career Readiness Certificate (WorkKeys) shall be recognized at their graduation ceremony.
      • Students graduating with a district-developed work ethic distinction shall be recognized at their graduation ceremony.
    • Wilson County Work Ethic Distinction
    • Attendance Standard 
      • (5 pts) No more than 1 unexcused  absence from school during  senior year 
      • (3 pts) No more than 3 unexcused  absences from school during  senior year
      • (1 pts) No more than 5 unexcused  absences from school during  senior year
    • Tardiness Standard 
      • (2 pts) No more than 1 tardy from  school during senior year 
      • (1 pts) No more than 3 tardies from  school during senior year 
    • Discipline Standard 
        • (2 pts) ​​No discipline referrals during senior year
        • (1 pts) No more than 1 referral during senior year
        •  
      • Drug Free Standard
        • (4 pts) Student Voluntary presents proof of being drug free
        •  
      • Overall Grade Point Average Standard
        • (3 pts) Overall GPA above a 3.5 unweighted
        • (2 pts) Overall GPA between 3.00-3.499 unweighted
        • (1 pts) Overall GPA between 2.0-2.99 unweighted
      • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Coursework Standard
        • (3 pts) Student has earned 3 or more CTE credits by the end of senior year
        • (2 pts) Student has earned 2 or more CTE credits by the end of senior year
        • (1 pts) Student has earned 1 or more CTE credit by the end of senior year
    • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Competition Standard
      • (3 pts) Student has competed in an approved National-level CTE competition
      • (2 pts) Student has competed in an approved State-level CTE competition
      • (1 pts) Student has competed in an approved Regional-level CTE competition
    • TN Promise Standard 
        • (2 pts) Student is good standing with TN Promise
        •  
      • Dual Enrollment/ Credit Standard
        • (2 pts) Student has earned credit for at least one Dual Enrollment, Dual Credit, or Advanced Placement course.
      • Industry Certification 
        • (3 pts) Student has earned a state or nationally recognized industry certification prior to graduation
      • Employed, Enlisted, or Enrolled Standard
        • (2 pts) Student is registered or applied to a post-secondary institution, is employed, or has enlisted into military service.
      • Career Readiness: Academic Standard 
        • (3 pts) Student has earned College and Career readiness Lexile
      • Career Readiness: ACT Standard
        • (4 pts) Student has earned College and Career benchmark in all sub tests of the ACT 
        • (3 pts) Student has earned College and Career benchmark in 3 sub tests of the ACT 
        • (2 pts) Student has earned College and Career benchmark in 2 sub tests of the ACT 
        • (1 pts) Student has earned College and Career benchmark in 1 sub tests of the ACT 
      • Industry Awareness Standard 
        • (3 pts) Student has participated in Work-based learning, an apprenticeship, or internship in CTE related field.
      • Community Service Standard 
        • (3 pts) Student has completed 30 hours or more in community service
        • (2 pts) Student has completed 20 hours or more in community service
        • (1 pts) Student has completed 10 hours or more in community service
    • Gold Work Ethics distinction is 35 or more points 
    • Silver Work Ethics distinction is 30-34 points 
    • Bronze Work Ethics distinction is 25-29 points