Competency Testing in Education: State Laws

Most states require some form of competency testing for students, intended to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum, educators, and schools as a whole. Below is a state-by-state directory highlighting competency testing standards, which tend to change quite regularly. See FindLaw's Competency Testing section for additional information.  

ALABAMA: Alabama high school graduates must meet minimum credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, honors diplomas, and occupational diplomas.

ALASKA: Alaska does not require exit exams for high school graduation. The state does offer standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, and certificates of attendance as exit options.

ARIZONA: Graduation from an Arizona high school requires both credit hour completion and an exit exam. Only standard diplomas are granted.

ARKANSAS: Arkansas high school students must meet the credit hour criteria for graduation. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, and certificates of attendance only.

CALIFORNIA: California has state-mandated credit hour requirements that must be met for graduation. Additionally, local education districts have the authority to require passing scores on some form of exit examinations. The state generally offers standard and honors program diplomas.

COLORADO: There are no state-level requirements for high school graduation. Local education associations may establish their own credit hour requirements as well as exit examination criteria. In addition to the standard diploma, a work/study diploma may be granted, as well as IEP diplomas

CONNECTICUT: Connecticut high school students must meet the credit hour criteria for graduation. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, honors diplomas, and GED diplomas.

DELAWARE: Delaware high school students must meet the credit hour criteria for graduation. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas and certificates of attendance only.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: High school students must meet the credit hour criteria only. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only.

FLORIDA: Florida high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance, and honors diplomas.

GEORGIA: In Georgia, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, and certificates of attendance.

HAWAII: Hawaii students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, honors diplomas.

IDAHO: Alabama high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas only.

ILLINOIS: High school students in Illinois must meet the credit hour criteria for graduation. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or certificates of attendance only.

INDIANA: Indiana high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, honors diplomas, or GED diplomas. It awards a certificate of achievement for special education students for whom a diploma track is not appropriate.

IOWA: Iowa high school students must meet the credit hour criteria only. However, in addition to state minimum credit requirements, local education boards may establish additional requirements for graduation. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or IEP diplomas only.

KANSAS: In Kansas, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria to be granted a standard diploma. Kansas law also authorizes local school boards to grant diplomas under separate or special criteria.

KENTUCKY: Kentucky high school students need only meet the credit hour criteria for graduation, but as of 2002, the state was implementing assessment examinations. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, and honors diplomas.

LOUISIANA: High school students in Louisiana must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas and certificates of attendance only.

MAINE: Maine high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or IEP diplomas.

MARYLAND: In Maryland, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, or GED diplomas.

MASSACHUSETTS: Massachusetts high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers standard diplomas only, except that IEP diplomas may be authorized by local school boards. In addition, part of the credit requirements for standard diplomas and the distribution of credits are left to the discretion of local authorities.

MICHIGAN: Michigan high school students must meet locally established criteria for graduation. They receive local high school diplomas with or without state endorsements. If local criteria require exit exams, depending on the performance level on an exit exam, state endorsements will appear on the transcripts. Generally, Michigan schools also offer IEP diplomas and certificates of attendance.

MINNESOTA: In Minnesota, high school students must pass an exit examination and demonstrate mastery of 24 standards. In return, they are granted a state endorsed standard diploma.

MISSISSIPPI: Mississippi high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, or certificates of attendance only.

MISSOURI: Missouri requires that high school students meet the credit hour criteria for receiving a diploma. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, honors diplomas.

MONTANA: In Montana, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or IEP diplomas.

NEBRASKA: Nebraska high school students must meet the credit hour criteria, but part of the credit requirements and/or the distribution of credits are left to the discretion of local education authorities. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, certificates of attendance only, or a locally-determined modified diploma for special needs.

NEVADA: High school students in Nevada must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, certificates of attendance only, or adult diplomas.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: In New Hampshire, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, and certificates of attendance only.

NEW JERSEY: New Jersey high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers standard diplomas only.

NEW MEXICO: New Mexico high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, or "career readiness" diplomas.

NEW YORK: In New York, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, honors diplomas, or an annotated local diploma.

NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, and honors diplomas.

NORTH DAKOTA: In North Dakota, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, or certificates of attendance only.

OHIO: Ohio high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, honors diplomas, or a diploma of adult education.

OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers standard diplomas only.

OREGON: In Oregon, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or certificates of attendance only.

PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania high school students must meet locally established criteria for graduation. The state offers standard diplomas or GED diplomas only.

RHODE ISLAND: In Rhode Island, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers standard diplomas only.

SOUTH CAROLINA: South Carolina high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or certificates of attendance only.

SOUTH DAKOTA: South Dakota high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas only.

TENNESSEE: In Tennessee, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, honors diplomas.

TEXAS: Texas high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or certificates of attendance only.

UTAH: Utah high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or certificates of attendance only.

VERMONT: In Vermont high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or certificates of attendance only.

VIRGINIA: Virginia high school students must meet the credit hour criteria plus pass an exit examination. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas, IEP diplomas, certificates of attendance only, honors diplomas, GED diplomas, and special diplomas.

WASHINGTON: In Washington, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria only. The state offers standard diplomas only.

WEST VIRGINIA: West Virginia high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or IEP diplomas only.

WISCONSIN: In Wisconsin, high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or certificates of attendance only.

WYOMING: Wyoming high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers exit options of standard diplomas or certificates of attendance only.

 

*Important Notice and Disclaimer: Because cases and state laws on competency testing are constantly subject to change and be amended over time, it is wise to check with a local attorney in your area who can advise you about the status of education laws in your state and local district.

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