Graduation Requirements

During the first two years of high school, students should focus on building on the knowledge and skills they gained in previous grades. Every 9th and 10th grade student (beginning 2014-2015 and thereafter) will take core academic classes to work towards a diploma. Following the student’s 10th grade year, a student may choose to work toward a Jump Start TOPS Tech Pathway or pursue the TOPS University Pathway. Students may choose both pathways. Decisions are made with counseling and guidance, based on the student’s interests, capabilities, and ambitions. 

High School Planning Guidebook 


Most students with disabilities will work towards earning a TOPS University Diploma or Jump Start TOPS Tech Career Diploma. In the rare situation that a student participating in the alternate assessment does not meet the graduation requirements for a high school diploma, the student may still pursue a Certificate of Achievement. Students who meet the April Dunn Act* criteria and/or take the alternate assessment can work towards earning a Jump Start TOPS Tech Career Diploma.   

*In June 2020, Gov. Edwards signed HB 848 into law which renamed Act 833 of 2014 as the April Dunn Act. April Dunn was a longtime advocate for people with disabilities who was instrumental in the passing of Act 833. The Department is in the process of updating language in our guidance documents to reflect the name change of Act 833 to the April Dunn Act.


Planning for students with disabilities pursuing the traditional pathway is the same as planning for any other student pursuing a traditional Jump Start pathway.


Students eligible for the April Dunn Act can work towards  earning a Jump Start diploma if they meet one of the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Enter high school having not achieved at least a combination of basic/approaching basic on math and ELA in two of the three most recent years (6th, 7th, and 8th grades) or
  2. Do not achieve a score of Fair, Good, or Excellent after two attempts on the same EOC test.

Planning for students who qualify for and actively apply the April Dunn Act is very similar to planning for students on the traditional pathway. The key difference is the IEP team determines appropriate exit goals, credentials, and individual performance criteria for required courses and assessments the student must take in order to achieve the standard diploma requirements.


Students who take the alternate assessment are eligible to work towards a Jump Start TOPS Tech Career Diploma.

Planning for students who take the alternate assessment working towards a Jump Start diploma is very similar to planning for students on the traditional pathway. The key difference is the student has to meet an alternative set of requirements for the purposes of graduation.

For more information on planning an effective high school experience for students eligible for alternative pathways to a high school diploma visit the Students with Disabilities Library.


Pupil Progression Plans are the policies and guidelines local school systems use to determine whether students will be promoted to the next grade, retained in the current grade, or advanced (or skipped) to higher grades. The Pupil Progression Plans also outline the criteria for high school graduation.

Each Local Education Agency (LEA) is required to develop a Pupil Progression Plan for review. Each agency may have slightly different procedures related to retention, advancement, promotion, and graduation.

For 2019-2020 School Systems will have the following options as it relates to the Pupil Progression Plan (PPP):

  • Retain the locally approved Pupil Progression Plan for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Submit a locally approved addendum outlining Pupil Progression Plan updates for the 2019-2020 school year no later than July 1, 2019.
  • Submit a new locally approved Pupil Progression Plan for the 2019-2020 school year no later than July 1, 2019.

By July 1, 2019 School Systems should either submit the selection form indicating they will retain the previously approved Pupil Progression Plan, submit an addendum, or submit a new plan. All submissions should be sent to

For more information, please email your request to


Obtaining a HISET®, a high school equivalency credential, may be a viable option for an overage under-credited student based on their unique needs and individual circumstances. A HISET® can position an overage under-credited student for a career or continued education. The HISET Guidance document is intended to support school administrators and staff in evaluating and pursuing the option of a HISET program and credential for an overage under-credited student. Email with questions.