Every student in a Texas public school who enters grade 9 in the 2014-15 school year and thereafter will graduate under a new program called the “foundation graduation program.” Within the foundation, graduation program is “endorsements,” which are paths of interest that include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); Business and Industry; Public Services; Arts and Humanities/ and Multidisciplinary Studies. Endorsements earned by a student will be noted on the student’s transcript and diploma. The foundation graduation program also involves the term “distinguished level of achievement,” which reflects the completion of at least one endorsement and Algebra II as one of the required advanced mathematics credits. Each state endorsement is embedded in the DSHS Academies and students can earn more than one state endorsement depending on their program of study. A personal graduation plan will be completed for each high school student. State law and rules prohibit a student from graduating solely under the foundation graduation program without an endorsement unless, after the student’s sophomore year, the student and student’s parent are advised of the specific benefits of graduating with an endorsement and submit written permission to the school counselor for the student to graduate without an endorsement. A student who anticipates graduating under the foundation graduation program without an endorsement and who wishes to attend a four-year university or college after graduation must carefully consider whether this will satisfy the admission requirements of the student’s desired college or university.
Graduating under the foundation graduation program will also provide opportunities to earn “performance acknowledgments” that will be acknowledged on a student’s diploma and transcript. Performance acknowledgments are available for outstanding performance in bilingualism and biliteracy; in a dual credit course; on an AP or IB exam; on the PSAT, ACT-PLAN, SAT or ACT exam, which are national exams; or for earning a nationally or internationally recognized license or certificate. The criteria for earning these performance acknowledgments are prescribed by state rules, and the school counselor can provide more information about theses acknowledgments. The default graduation plan for all students at DSHS is the Distinguished Level of Achievement with Multidisciplinary Endorsement. The Multidisciplinary Endorsement requires 4 credits in all core area classes (Math, Science, Social Studies, English/Language Arts). By doing this, students can change Academies as needed and still graduate with the state multidisciplinary endorsement and therefore be completing the endorsement component of the *Distinguished Achievement Diploma.