Questions and Answers

Here are some frequently asked questions about the change in the graduation requirements effective with the Class of 2016.

Question Answer
What are the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) “A-G” requirements? The “A-G” requirements are the minimum academic course requirements high school students must satisfy to be eligible to apply for freshman admission to UC/CSU. They consist of 15 year-long courses in seven subject areas, which students are required to pass with a grade of C or better.
Do all San Diego Unified students have to meet the UC/CSU “A-G” requirements in order to graduate from high school? Not at this time. Students in the graduating Classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 are not required to complete the full sequence of UC/CSU “A-G” courses in order to earn a high school diploma. Starting with the Class of 2016 and beyond, students will be required to take the full sequence of UC “A-G” subject area courses.
Why doesn’t the district require completion of the UC/CSU “A-G” course sequence for high school graduation now? Current graduation requirements are based in part, but not entirely, on course requirements set by the state of California for graduation from high school. These are different and less stringent than the “A-G” courses required for admission to a UC and CSU. The Board of Education is given authority under state Education Code to require additional coursework for graduation beyond the minimum set by the state.
Is the Board of Education planning to add the UC/CSU “A-G” course sequence to the current high school graduation requirements? Yes. In 2011, the Board adopted new graduation requirements that will require the UC/CSU “A-G” subject area courses for graduation starting with the Class of 2016.
How different is the UC/CSU “A-G” course sequence from what is currently required for high school graduation? There are very few differences. The current course requirements for graduation are aligned with the “A-G” courses required for UC/CSU admission in all but a few subject areas. In mathematics, the district currently does not require a third-year college preparatory course at the Algebra II level (Intermediate Algebra) or above, while “A-G” does. San Diego Unified students also can choose whether to complete a year of world language or a year of visual and performing arts, but are not required to.
Do students need to receive a letter grade for their UC/CSU “A-G” coursework? Yes. In order to meet the “A-G” requirement, a course must receive a letter grade. Courses may not be taken Pass/Fail or Credit/No Credit. Grades of Incomplete are also not recognized.
To meet UC/CSU “A-G” requirements, students must earn a grade of “C” or better in the courses they take. Since the new graduation requirements will include the UC/CSU “A-G” subject area courses, will students have to earn a grade of “C,” or will the district continue to use “D” as the passing grade for coursework? The Board of Education decided that if a student receives a “D” grade in an “A-G”-required course, s/he is eligible to graduate from high school; however, the student in most cases will not be eligible to attend a UC/CSU school.
How many San Diego Unified students currently are successful in completing the UC/CSU “A-G” course sequence with a grade of “C” or higher? According to the California Department of Education (CDE) Data Quest website, 43.7 percent of graduates in 2010 completed the entire UC/CSU “A-G” course sequence with a grade of “C” or better, and many other students completed nearly all the courses in the sequence.
Will the level of rigor of UC/CSU “A-G” courses decrease once all students are required to pass the “A-G” course sequence in order to graduate from high school? In order for a high school course to meet a UC/CSU “A-G” requirement, it must be reviewed by UC and receive “A-G” certification. Certification involves an extensive review by UC articulation and subject experts of the course syllabus and required textbooks, supplemental instructional materials, number and types of assignments given, assessments used, anticipated goals and outcomes, designated grade levels, and other items as might be required to make sure the course meets the expected rigor.
What results have other districts seen after implementing the "A-G" requirements? Other districts that have implemented similar reforms report that rigor does not get diluted. San Jose Unified has implemented the “A-G” requirements for several years, and its data show that more students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and earned qualifying scores of three, four or five, indicating that instructional standards remained high. San Francisco Unified School District began implementing similar changes in 2009-10.