4.5.2 Credits and Course Requirements

Credits and Course Requirements

The credit and course requirements for SFUSD students are described in Section A below. There are four credit and course plans described in Section A.  These include: Plan 1 (All Students); Plan 2 (Foreign Born Students Age 15 or Older); Plan 3 (Foster, Probation Involved,  Homeless/Transitional Youth, Children of a Military Family, Migrant Students, or Newly Arrived Immigrants Participating in a Newcomer Program Who Transfer After their Second Year of High school or Newcomer English Learner Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education); Plan 4 (Students enrolled in schools or programs governed by San Francisco County Office of Education).

Section B below describes the Alternative to the High School Diploma.

Section A: Credit and Course Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of the following numbers of courses in the subjects specified, each course having duration of one year, unless otherwise specified. These credits may be achieved through traditional classes or alternative means that have been approved such as dual enrollment in a community college, on-line courses, summer school, adult education, work experience, proficiency tests, or classes from other accredited institutions. The requirements to obtain approval to receive credit through these alternative means are outlined in an Administrative Regulation approved by the Superintendent.

Plan 1: All Students

Courses Semesters Credits

a.  History/Social Science

(Including US History, World History and American Government/Economics.)

6 30

b.  College Preparatory English

(Courses approved by the University of California Office of the President, which prepare students to take college level courses; only one year of approved ELD is calculated as a “b” English.)

8 40

c.  Mathematics 

(Three years of approved UC math, typically  Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.)

6 30

d.  Laboratory Science 

(One year each from biological and physical sciences.  A third year of science is recommended by UC.  Please consult with your counselor for the current requirements of the University of California and California State Universities and the current list of UC-D accepted courses.)

4 20

e.  World Languages

(Two years of the same language other than English required.)

*See additional notes at the end of Section A.

4 20

f.  Visual and Performing Arts

(One year of the same discipline:  Dance, Drama/Theater, Music or Visual Art.)

2 10

Physical Education

*See additional notes at the end of Section A.

4 20
Health Education 1 5
College & Career Course 1 5

g.  Electives    

(Advanced one year courses in Math, Arts, English, Lab Sciences, Foreign

10 50
Language, Social Sciences, Ethnic Studies, or other course.  At least 2 semesters or 10 credits of electives must be a-g approved courses as required by the University of California and California State University System.)    
Total Credits Required   230

Students with disabilities intending to earn a regular high school diploma must complete the District’s credit and course requirements.  Students with disabilities may receive accommodations and/or modifications in these required courses, as specified in the IEP or 504 Plan. 

Plan 2: Foreign Born Students 15 or Older

Foreign born students who enter the District and are at least 15 years of age by September 1st of their entering year will be placed in the 10th  grade. Students in this category may obtain a diploma by meeting the following course and credit requirement:

Courses Semesters Credits
a.  History/Social Science (including US History, World History and American Government/Economics) 6 30
b.   English  (3 years) 6 30
c.  Mathematics (including Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 6 30
d. Laboratory Science (one year each from biological and physical sciences.) 4 20
e. World Languages (Two years of the same language other than English required.) * See additional notes at the end of Section A. 4 20
f. Visual and Performing Arts (Dance, Drama/Theater, Music or Visual Art) 2 10
Physical Education*  See additional notes at the end of Section A. 4 20
Health Education 1 5
College & Career Course 1 5
g. Electives (Advanced one-year courses in Math, Arts, English, Lab Sciences, Foreign Language, Social Sciences, Ethnic Studies, or other course.  At least 2 semesters or 10 credits of electives must be a-g approved courses as required by the University of California and California State University System.) 4 10
Total Credits Required   180

Students who are 14 by September 1st of their entering year will be placed in 9th grade, and will be required to meet Plan 1 graduation requirements. Students with less than 8 years of schooling will be placed in the 9th grade.

Requirement to Sign a Waiver:  In order to utilize Plan 2, the eligible student and the parent/guardian must sign a written waiver to acknowledge that Plan 2 does not satisfy a-g requirements, and may affect the student’s ability to gain admission to a post-secondary institution.  The student shall also receive information about transfer opportunities available through the California Community Colleges.  The counseling and waiver process for utilizing Plan 2 shall be further outlined in an Administrative Regulation approved by the Superintendent.

Plan 3 – Foster, Probation Involved, Homeless/Transitional YouthChildren of a Military Family or Migrant Students Who Transfer Between Schools After 2 Years of High School; or Newly Arrived Immigrants Participating in a Newcomer Program and in Their Third or Fourth Year of High School; or Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE)

Foster, probation involved, homeless/transitional youth, children of a military family, or migrant students who transfer between schools any time after their completion of their second year of high school; or newly arrived immigrant students participating in a Newcomer program and in their third or fourth year of high school shall be required to complete all graduation requirements specified in Education Code 51225.3 but shall be exempt from any additional District-adopted graduation requirements, unless the Superintendent or designee makes a finding that the student is reasonably able to complete the requirements in time to graduate by the end of the fourth year of high school. Within 30 days of the transfer, any such student shall be notified of the availability of the exemption and whether the student qualifies for it. (Education Code 51225.1).  

Students with limited or interrupted formal education who have been enrolled in a U.S. high school for at least two years at the time of planned graduation and who will reach age 18 with fewer than 100 credits are also not required to complete courses beyond state requirements, unless the District makes a finding that the student is reasonably able to complete the additional requirements in time to graduate from high school by the end of the student’s fourth year of high school.

Courses Semesters Credits
a.  History/Social Studies (3 years including U.S. History, World History, and American Government/Economics) 6 30
b.  English (3 years) 6 30
c.  Mathematics  (2 years including Algebra 1) 4 20
d.  Science (2 years including biological and physical sciences) 4 20
e.  Visual and Performing Arts or World Language* (1 year) See additional notes at end of Section A 2 10

f. Physical Education* (2 years) See additional notes at end of Section A

4 20
Total Credits Required   130

Requirement to Sign a Waiver:  In order to utilize Plan 3, an eligible student (and, as appropriate, the person holding the right to make educational decisions for the student) must sign a written waiver to acknowledge that Plan 3 does not satisfy a-g requirements, and may affect the student’s ability to gain admission to a post-secondary institution.  The student shall also receive information about transfer opportunities available through the California Community Colleges.  The counseling and waiver process for utilizing Plan 3 is further outlined in an Administrative Regulation approved by the Superintendent.

Potential Fifth Year:  If the school district determines that the student who is eligible for Plan 3 is reasonably able to complete the school district’s graduation requirements within the student’s fifth year of high school, the district shall inform and counsel the student about this right, as further outlined in an Administrative Regulation approved by the Superintendent.

Accepting Previous Work Completed and Partial Credits:  Students eligible for Plan 3 shall receive credit for coursework satisfactorily completed while attending another public school, a juvenile court school, charter school, school in another country, or a nonpublic, nonsectarian school or agency even if the student did not complete the entire course and shall receive full or partial credit for the coursework completed.  When partial credit is awarded in a particular course, the student shall be enrolled in the same or equivalent course, if applicable, so that the student may continue and complete the entire course.  The eligible student shall not be prevented from retaking or taking a course to meet the eligibility requirements for admission to the California State University or the University of California. The issuing and acceptance of partial credits is further outlined in an SFUSD Administrative Regulation approved by the Superintendent

Plan 4 – For Students Enrolled in Schools or Programs Governed by the San Francisco County Office of Education

Courses Semesters Credits
a.  History/Social Science (including US History, World History and American Government/Economics) 6 30
b.   English  (3 years) 6 30
c. Mathematics (including Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2) 4 20
d. Science 4 20
e. Visual and Performing Arts or World Language 2 10
Physical Education 4 20
Health Education 1 5
College & Career Course 1 5
f. Electives  (4 years of academic, personal, career, or college development skills) 8 40
Total Credits Required   180

Section B

Additional Notes:

World Languages

  • An approved course in American Sign Language shall be deemed as meeting this requirement.

  • Students studying a World 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 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 Administrative Regulation regarding alternative means for meeting credit and course requirements. 

  • English Learner (EL) students who can demonstrate proficiency in their primary language that is equal to or exceeding what is expected of students after two years of classroom World Language study may be exempted from the World Language requirement.  The purpose of this exemption is to provide secondary EL students the opportunity to take additional ELD 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 English Learner students from taking World Language courses.  All students planning to attend college should investigate the foreign language requirement.

Physical Education

High School Grades 9 - 12
  • At least two years of Physical Education classes and 20 credits are required to graduate unless otherwise exempted pursuant of SFUSD Board Policy.
  • All 9th graders must be enrolled in a Physical Education Course.,
  • All 11th and 12th graders who have received 20 credits must have access to elective PE courses.
  • While PE is not an A-G required course, it is a graduation requirement. Students enrolled in FITL2 can receive PE and A-G credit.
State Mandated Physical Fitness Test
  • All students in grades 5th, 7th and 9th will complete the State Mandated Physical Fitness Test in PE classes during the spring semester.

  • 9th grade students who pass 5 of 6 sections of the State Mandated Physical Fitness Test are eligible  to complete the remaining ten PE course credits in 10th, 11th or 12th grade.

  • 9th grade students who fail to pass 5 of 6 sections of the State Mandated Physical Fitness Test are required to enroll in a PE course during  the 10th grade.

  • Passing the Physical Fitness Test in 5th  7th or 9th grade does not exempt the 20 credit requirement to graduate from high school.

  • Failure to pass the State Mandated Physical Fitness Test is not grounds for withholding a diploma.