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ISBE Issues Emergency Rules to Modify State-Mandated Graduation Requirements

Published May 7, 2020

On April 27, 2020, following Governor Pritzker’s April 24, 2020 Executive Order 2020-31, the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) released Emergency Rules temporarily modifying the State-mandated graduation requirements.  According to ISBE’s corresponding guidance and FAQ, the Emergency Rules were intended to provide flexibility to school districts to address the unfortunate reality that many students across the state who were on-track to graduate were unable to complete graduation requirements due to the suspension of in-person instruction. 

The following modifications were made to the state-mandated course requirements:

  1. In the core content areas, the minimum year requirements were reduced as follows: Language Arts reduced to 3.5 years, Mathematics reduced to 2.5 years, Science reduced to 1.5 years, Social Studies reduced to 1.5 years, and music/art/foreign language/vocational education is reduced to .5 years.
  2. Twelfth grade students are exempted from PE and health requirements.
  3. Twelfth grade students are exempted from the consumer education requirement.
  4. Twelfth grade students who were enrolled in a vocational or technical course as a substitution for a graduation requirement, shall not be denied credit for these courses due to the suspension of in-person instruction.
  5. Twelfth grade students may now receive credit for a foreign language student completed in an ethnic school without successfully passing a foreign language proficiency examination. 

In addition to the aforementioned modifications to course requirements, the following modifications were made to the state-mandated assessment requirements:

  1. Twelfth grade students are exempted from participating in the SAT examination requirement. Twelfth grade students who are identified to participate in the DLM-AA are also exempted from participating in the DLM-AA.
  2. Eighth and Twelfth grade students who have not yet passed the Constitution Examination are exempted from this requirement. 

Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order and the Emergency Rules address the State-mandated requirements for graduation.  Local school boards have the discretion to determine district-specific graduation requirements and make modifications, as needed, considering the needs and circumstances of their students.  Keep in mind, the Emergency Rules were meant to provide flexibility to districts to ensure those students who were on track to graduate are not negatively impacted by the suspension of in-person instruction due to COVID-19.