SFUSD Graduation & Promotion Requirements


(As presented in the SFUSD “Student Handbook” 9/2009)

To Grade 10 ..................................55 Credits

To Grade 11 ................................115 Credits

To Grade 12 ................................170 Credits

To Graduate ................................230 Credits



In order to obtain a high school diploma, a student must complete the credits and courses required by the San Francisco Unified School District, and must pass the California High School Exit Exam (“CAHSEE”), as discussed below.

A. Credits and Courses

Graduation from the San Francisco Unified School District will require the successful completion of at least 230 credits, regardless of when a student first entered ninth grade or where a student began ninth grade study. The 230 credits are usually accumulated at the rate of 30 per semester; 60 per school year in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12. These credits may be earned in the classroom or through other supervised activity, including work experience. 

The following are required courses that must be completed successfully (earning a passing grade of “D” or higher) to graduate:


English 40

History/Social Science 30

Mathematics (College Prep.) 20

Science (College Prep. – 1 year each of life science and physical science) 20

Mathematics or Science (College Prep. – 1 additional year of either) 10

Visual and Performing Arts 10

World/Foreign Language* 10

Physical Education/JROTC* 20

Health Education (incl. CPR/First Aid) 5

College and Career Planning 2.5

Driver Education 2.5

Elective Courses 60



1. World/Foreign Language Requirement for LEP students: It is the Board’s intent that the units will be accumulated for the same foreign language. Using the California State Model Curriculum Standard for Foreign Language as the criteria, the Board of Education policy on the foreign language graduation requirement exempts limited-English proficient students who can demonstrate proficiency in their primary language equal to or exceeding what is expected of students after two years of classroom foreign language study. The purpose of this exemption is to provide secondary LEP students the opportunity to take additional ESL courses and to give recognition to the primary language skills that they have already acquired. In no way is the intent of the exemption to discourage LEP students from taking foreign language courses. All students planning to attend college should investigate the foreign language requirement.

2. Physical Education: Students must pass the swimming proficiency test as part of the PE requirement.

3. High School Credit for private school foreign language instruction - Students studying a foreign language in a private school at the same time they are enrolled in a district high school may qualify to receive high school course credit for their foreign language instruction. Up to 20 credits, at a maximum of 10 credits per year, will be granted to students who meet the criteria listed in the district policy. See your high school counselor for more information within 30 days after the start of the semester.

4. Concurrent credit for community college courses taken by high school students – High school students may receive high school credit for community college classes unless the same college class is offered at the high school. In this particular situation, the student will only receive community college credits. Consult your high school counselor for details.

5. High school credit for summer courses taken at the UC Berkeley Academic Talent

Development Program and University of San Francisco Upward Bound Program will be given to high school students. See your counselor for information.

B. California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE)

All students, beginning with the graduating class of 2006, will be required to pass the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) in addition to meeting all other SFUSD credit and course requirements in order to receive a high school diploma. The purpose of this new graduation requirement, authorized by state law, is to help improve student achievement in high school, and to ensure that graduates meet rigorous state standards in reading, writing, and mathematics. Students

must earn a scale score of 350 or higher on each part of the CAHSEE (English/Languag Arts and Mathematics) in order to pass the exam.

The CAHSEE will be administered at the school site during regular school hours. As required by state law, Grade 10 students may take the CAHSEE only during the Spring administration. Grade 10 students who do not pass the exam will have several opportunities in grades 11 and 12 to retake the part(s) not passed.

Limited English Proficient (LEP) students are to receive at least six months of instruction in reading, writing and comprehension in English within their first 24 calendar months of enrollment in the California public school system. During this period, LEP students shall take the CAHSEE in order to maximize their opportunities to take and pass the examination. LEP students must pass the CAHSEE in English in order to obtain a diploma.

Special Education students must pass the CAHSEE in order to obtain a high school diploma. The CAHSEE shall be administered in accordance with requirements and accommodations as specified in each student’s IEP.  At the parent or guardian’s request, the Board may waive the requirement to successfully pass one or both subject matter parts of the high school exit examination for a pupil with a disability if the principal certifies to the governing board of the school district that the pupil has all of the following:

• An individualized education program adopted pursuant to the federal Individuals with

Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) or a plan adopted pursuant to Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794(a)) in place that requires the accommodations or modifications to be provided to the pupil when taking the high school exit examination.

• Sufficient high school level coursework either satisfactorily completed or in progress in a high school level curriculum sufficient to have attained the skills and knowledge otherwise needed to pass the high school exit examination.

• An individual score report for the pupil showing that the pupil has received the equivalent of a passing score on the high school exit examination while using a modification that fundamentally alters what the high school exit examination measures as determined by the State Board of Education.   Notwithstanding the CAHSEE requirement described above, the District shall grant a high school

diploma to a pupil with a disability if the pupil is scheduled to graduate from high school in 2006, has not passed the CAHSEE, and has not obtained a waiver as described above, if all of the following criteria of SB 517, outlined in Board Policy 6105.3 are met. Please see your counselor to obtain more information.


Certificate of Completion: Students who have passed all of the District’s course and credit requirements by the end of their senior year but are unable to pass the CAHSEE may receive a Certificate of Completion from the District if they have taken advantage of the supplemental interventions offered at their school site to pass the CAHSEE, and have taken the February CAHSEE. This certificate will acknowledge the student’s completion of SFUSD credit and course requirements, but is not the equivalent of a high school diploma. In order to receive such a certificate, the student and parent/guardian must sign an acknowledgment that the Certificate of Completion is not a high school diploma, and is not the equivalent of a high school diploma. The acknowledgment shall also inform students and parents of the options available to obtain a diploma

or a diploma equivalent.

Document of Educational Achievement. Instead of a high school diploma, a student with disabilities may be awarded a document of educational achievement if the student has met one of the following requirements: (i) satisfactorily completed a prescribed alternative course of study approved by the governing board of the District in which the student attended school or the District with jurisdiction over the student as identified in his/her IEP, (ii) satisfactorily met his/her goals and objectives during high school as identified in his/her IEP, (iii) satisfactorily attended high school,participated in the instruction as prescribed in his/her IEP, and met the objectives of the statement of transition services.

A student who obtains a Document of Educational Achievement shall be eligible to participate inany graduation ceremony and any school activity related to graduation in which a graduating student of similar age without disabilities would be eligible to participate. The right to participate in graduation ceremonies does not equate a document of educational achievement with a high school diploma.