High School Graduation Requirements

Ohio Excels joined with the Alliance for High Quality Education, the Ohio 8 Coalition and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute to develop a joint proposal for graduation. State policymakers adopted this proposal as part of Ohio’s biennial budget in July 2019. 

Click here for Ohio Excels’ press release on the adoption of the new requirements, and click here for a short PDF overview of the joint proposal. 


High School Diploma = Course Completion + Competency + Preparation for College or Career 

Course Completion 

Students earn the minimum high school course credits set by the state and district.


Students must earn a competent score on the state’s Algebra I and English II tests. Students not scoring competent on a test must receive remedial supports and retake the exams at least once. If a student still does not score competent, they may use an alternate demonstration:

  1. College Credit Plus: Earn credit for one math and one English course through College Credit Plus.
  2. Career Experience & Technical Skill: Complete two demonstrations, at least one of which must be foundational:
    • Foundational: Proficient on three WebXams, approved industry credential (12 points), pre-apprenticeship or acceptance into an apprenticeship program
    • Supporting: Workplace experience, WorkKeys or the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal
  3. Military Readiness: Meet the requirements to enlist in the military, including AFQT requirements, as demonstrated by a contract with the military to enlist upon graduation.

Preparation for College or Career

Students must earn two diploma seals, one of which must be state defined:

  1. OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal (State) – Demonstrate professional skills.
  2. Industry-Recognized Credential Seal (State) – Earn 12 points worth of approved credentials.
  3. College-Ready Seal (State) – Score remediation-free on the ACT or SAT in math and English.
  4. Military Enlistment Seal (State) – Participate in JROTC and/or enroll in the military.
  5. Citizenship Seal (State) – Score proficient on the American History and American Government tests.
  6. Science Seal (State) – Score proficient on the Biology test.
  7. Honors Diploma Seal (State) – Meet the requirements set by the State Board of Education.
  8. Seal of Biliteracy (State) – Demonstrate levels of proficiency in at least one other language.
  9. Technology Seal (State) – Complete advanced coursework in a technology field.
  10. Community Service Seal (Local) – Complete community service using locally-developed guidelines.
  11. Fine and Performing Arts Seal (Local) – Demonstrate skills using locally-developed guidelines.
  12. Certified Student Engagement Seal (Local) – Participate in meaningful activities such as athletics, clubs and student government as defined by locally-developed guidelines.

Other Graduation Policy Changes

Identification & Supports

  • Identify & Notify: Identify students at risk of not graduating on time no later than the ninth grade through an early warning system and require notification to families that connects current performance to graduation.
  • New Supports: Provide additional supports or educational options, like project-based learning or career-technical programming, to help identified students get on track. Provide educators supports for implementation.
  • A New 13th Year: Develop options for students who are not prepared to graduate at the end of 12th grade that allow them to continue learning during a 13th year and that reduce the stigma of not graduating on time.

Testing Changes

  • Reduce the number of high school tests from seven to five by eliminating the English I and Geometry tests.
  • Restrict the testing that students must use for graduation requirement purposes to only Algebra I and English II.
  • Require the Ohio Department of Education, in consultation with higher education, career tech and the business community, to identify the essential knowledge and skills required for students to be successful after high school and identify a new score – competent – for the Algebra I and English II tests that align with the essential skills and knowledge no later than March 2020.

Transition Timeline

  • Classes of 2021 and 2022: Complete one of the original three options or this new proposal, as available.
  • Classes of 2023 and Beyond: Meet the requirements of this new proposal.

©2019 Ohio Excels