3000 - Educational Program

3460 Graduation Requirements


The board recognizes the importance of setting rigorous graduation requirements in order to help ensure students are receiving an education that prepares them to be productive members of society.

In order to graduate from high school, students shall be required to meet the following requirements:

1. successful completion of all course unit requirements as described in Section A;

2. successful completion of cardiopulmonary resuscitation instruction (CPR); and

3. successful completion of all other requirements mandated by the board as provided in this policy.

The principal or designee shall ensure parents and students are aware of all graduation requirements.  Guidance program staff will assist students in selecting their high school courses to help ensure students are taking all of the required units and selecting electives consistent with their post-graduate plans.

For students who have transferred to the school system during high school, or for other reasons have completed course work outside of the school system, the principal shall determine what course work shall be applied as credit for graduation. The principal or designee shall consider the requirements of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children (G.S. 115C-407.5and Policy 4050, Children of Military Families) and the requirements of Section D.3 of this policy in determining the graduation requirements for children of military families.


All students must fulfill the course unit requirements of the Future-Ready Core Course of Study, unless they are approved for the Future-Ready Occupational Course of Study. The table in subsection A.1 below lists the course unit requirements for the Future-Ready Core Course of Study applicable to students who entered ninth grade for the first time during the 2014-2015 school year or thereafter. Students who entered the ninth grade for the first time in 2013-14 or before, should consult their school counselor to determine applicable course unit requirements for graduation.

In accordance with Policy 3101, Dual Enrollment, and State Board of Education requirements, students may earn high school credit for college courses completed. In addition, students may earn credit for certain high school courses in the Future-Ready Core Course of Study completed while in middle school, as authorized by the State Board of Education. Students also have the opportunity to meet course unit requirements without completing the regular period of classroom instruction by demonstrating mastery of the course material in accordance with Policy 3420, Student Promotion and Accountability, and State Board of Education requirements. Students also must meet local course requirements of the Pender County Schools (Policy 3420).

All awards of high school course credit must be consistent with State Board of Education requirements. Any inconsistency between board policy and State Board graduation requirements will be resolved by following the State Board requirements.

Future Ready Core Course of Study Credits Required for Students Entering the Ninth Grade for the First Time in 2014-2015 and after:


For Ninth Graders Entering in 2014-2015 and Later Two Courses of Study Leading to One Diploma



Course of Study Requirements

LOCAL CORE Course of Study Requirements


Course of Study Requirements

LOCAL OCCUPATIONAL Course of Study Requirements


4 Credits

I, II, III, IV or

a designated combination of 4 courses


4 Credits

English I, II, III, IV



4 Credits

  • NC Math 1, 2, and 3


  • 4th Math Course to be aligned with the student’s post high school plans

(A principal may exempt a student from this math sequence. Exempt students will be required to pass Math 1 and 2 and two other application-based math courses or selected CTE courses, as identified on the NC DPI math options chart.)¹


3 Credits

Introduction to Math,

Math 1


Financial Management



3 Credits

A physical science course, Biology and an earth/environmental science course


2 Credits

Applied Science



Social Studies

4 Credits

American History: Founding Principles, Civics and Economics,

World History,

American History I

American History II²


2 Credits

American History I

American History II


World Languages

Not required for high school graduation. A two-credit minimum is required for admission to a university in the UNC system.⁵


Not required


Health and Physical Education

1 Credit

Health/Physical Education


1 Credit

Health/Physical Education


Electives or other requirements

6 Credits required

2 elective credits of any combination from either:

– Career and Technical Education (CTE)

– Arts Education

– World Languages⁵

4 elective credits strongly recommended (four course concentration) from one of the following:

– Career and Technical Education (CTE)⁴


– Arts Education (e.g. dance, music, theater arts, visual arts)

– Any other subject area or cross-disciplinary course.

A four-course concentration with one second-level (advanced) course.


Effective 2020-2021:

A two- course concentration with one second-level (advanced) course.

6 (including Occupational Preparation I, II, III, and IV, which require 150 hours of school-based training, 225 hours of community-based training, and 225 hours of paid employment)³

Elective credits/ completion of IEP objectives/Career

Portfolio required


Career/ Technical



4 Credits

Career/Technical Education electives


Arts Education (Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, Visual Arts)




at least one credit in an arts discipline and/or requirement by local decision


Other Requirements



Completion of IEP objectives

Career Portfolio



22 Credits plus any local requirements


22 Credits plus any local requirements








¹ Students seeking to complete minimum course requirements for UNC universities must complete four mathematics courses, including a fourth level math course with Math III as a prerequisite.

² Certain International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses will satisfy specific graduation requirements.  See SBE policy GRAD-008.  A student who takes AP US History OR IB History of the Americas instead of taking American History I and American History II must also take an additional social studies course in order to meet the four credits requirement.

³ Paid employment is the expectation; however, when paid employment is not available, 225 hours of unpaid vocational training, unpaid internship experience, paid employment at community rehabilitation facilities, and volunteer and/or community service hours may substitute for 225 hours of paid employment. 

⁴ For additional information on CTE courses that meet requirements for selected Courses of Study, see the CTE Clusters chart at: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/cte/curriculum/

⁵ Students seeking to complete minimum course requirements for UNC universities must complete two credits of a single world language.

⁶ For students graduating in 2019 the total of 28 credits is achieved by earning the 22 required per the Future Ready Core requirements, the 4 course concentrator requirement and any 2 additional credits.

⁷ For students graduating 2020 and after, the 28 total credits is achieved by earning the 22 required per the Future Ready Core requirements, the 2 course concentrator requirement and any 4 additional credits.

B.  High School End-of-Course Testing

Students must take all end-of-course (EOC) tests required by the State Board of Education.  Students who do not score at Level III or above on the first administration of an EOC test may be retested in accordance with State Board policy.

The EOC test results will count as 20 percent of a student’s final grade in each high school course for which an EOC test is available. 

C.  Special Circumstances

The board adopts the following policies with regard to graduation.

1.  Individual Graduation Plans

As an alternative to prescribed graduation requirements, Pender County Schools has the discretion to award a high school diploma based upon successful completion of minimum state requirements.  This diploma is intended to meet the diverse needs of Pender County students who experience special circumstances.  This option will serve as a catalyst for students to excel beyond high school without sacrificing the rigor and relevance of North Carolina State Board Policy.  As a result, this will decrease the student dropout rate there by increasing the likelihood of student graduation.  Eligibility for this diploma shall be determined on a case-by-case basis by the school-level Student Support Team.

2.  Honor Graduates

Honor graduates may be designated by principals on the basis of criteria established by the superintendent.  A student who completes the requirements of the North Carolina Academic Scholars Program will receive recognition, including a seal affixed to his or her diploma.  Recognition of honor graduates may be included in graduation programs.

3.  Students with Disabilities

Graduation requirements must be applied to students with disabilities to the extent required by state and federal law and State Board policy.

4.  Children of Military Families

In order to facilitate the on-time graduation of children of military families, the board adopts the following policy provisions for students covered by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

a.  Waiver Requirements

Specific course work required for graduation will be waived if similar course work has been satisfactorily completed in another school system.  If a waiver is not granted, school administrators shall provide the student with reasonable justification for the denial.  If a waiver is not granted to a student who would qualify to graduate from the sending school, the superintendent or designee shall provide the student with an alternative means of acquiring the required coursework so that graduation may occur on time.

b.  Testing Requirements for Graduation

The superintendent shall accept the following in lieu of any local testing requirements for graduation:  (1) the end-of-course exams required for graduation from the sending state; (2) national norm-referenced achievement tests; or (3) alternative testing.  If these alternatives are not feasible for a student transferring in his or her senior year, subsection c below will apply.

c.  Transfers During Senior Year

If a child of a military family transferring at the beginning of or during his or her senior year is ineligible to graduate from the school system after all of the alternatives listed above have been considered and the student meets the graduation requirements at his or her sending school, then school officials from the school system shall collaborate with the sending school system to ensure that the student will receive a diploma from the sending board of education.

5.  Early Graduation

Graduation prior to one's class may be permitted if the following criteria are met: Successful completion of all Future Ready Core course unit requirements (22 credits) as mandated by the State Board of Education and upon Principal approval.

6.  Graduation Certificates

Graduation certificates will be awarded to eligible students in accordance with the standards set forth in State Board policy.

Legal References:
G.S. 115C-47, -81, -174.11, -276, -288, -407.5; State Board of Education Policies CCRE-001, GRAD-004, GRAD-007, GRAD-008, GRAD-010, TEST-003
Cross References:
Goals and Objectives of the Educational Program (policy 3000), Student Promotion and Accountability (policy 3420), Children of Military Families (policy 4050)
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Last Updated:
Tuesday, 10 December 2019