High School Graduation Requirements

Under new requirements approved by the state Board of Education, South Dakota will have one set of minimum graduation requirements – as opposed to two pathways. The requirements were designed to balance rigor and flexibility for students. With a few exceptions, the new requirements begin with students entering 9th grade in the 2010-11 school year. Local districts may add to the minimum requirements.

Summary of Changes

The major differences with the new requirements are as follows:
1. All students will be required to have a Personal Learning Plan.

2. A student may be excused from certain math and science requirements if it is deemed in the student’s best interest.

3. Districts may choose to offer credit for Fine Arts extracurricular activities.

4. Effective Sept. 1, 2013, students will be required to take one-half credit of physical education and one-half credit of health. (NOTE: Schools will have the option of integrating health in lieu of a stand-alone health course.)

5. Effective Sept. 1, 2013, students will have the option of completing a capstone experience or participating in service learning, as part of a short menu of options.

That menu includes:
--Approved career and technical education courses
--World languages
--Capstone experience or service learning

6. Academic core content credit may be earned by completing an approved career and technical education course. Approval to offer credit must be obtained through an application process with the Department of Education. The application must include: course syllabus; standards based curriculum; teacher certification; and assessment of standards by methods including end-of-course exams, authentic assessment, project-based learning or rubrics.


In early 2009, the South Dakota Legislature passed Senate Bill 185, which eliminated the basic, or standard, pathway to graduation. This precipitated the need to reset the minimum requirements to graduate. Following a public comment period and public hearing, the South Dakota Board of Education passed the new minimum requirements on Nov. 2, 2009. The requirements are outlined in Administrative Rule 24:43:11.

With the few exceptions noted above, the new requirements begin with students entering 9th grade in the 2010-11 school year. Students who were already in high school when the new requirements were passed will continue to follow the old requirements: the Standard and Advanced Pathways.

Documents and Useful Links
Fine Art Activities to Standards
Graduation Requirements booklet
How To: Health/ Health Integration
Implementation Timeline
List of Approved CTE Courses
Math Exclusion Documentation
New Requirements
Pathways "old" Grad Requirements
Science Exclusion Documentation
Students with Disabilities Policy
Related Administrative Rules
CTE for Core Content


For more information contact Alyssa Krogstrand, South Dakota Department of Education, 605-773-4150.