The Texas State Board of Education raised the number Texas graduation requirements to 26 units of study beginning with the 2009 school year. Not only did this change require more credits for graduation, it also gave students greater leeway in choosing their course of study in the enrichment portion of the curriculum. Schools are free to adopt additional electives leading to a Distinguished Achievement Program diploma for its graduates.
Foundation classes are the four core subject areas: communication arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Within those four areas, students must take four years of communication arts. If English is a second language, substitutions for the two lowest courses may take place. Four years each of math and science classes are part of the course of study. Students take four years of social studies course, with half a year's credit as economics and half as U.S. government.
Texas graduation requirements also include a number of enrichment classes to help make students well-rounded citizens. These courses include two years of foreign language, one year of physical education, one year of fine arts, a half-year of speech and six electives of the student's choice. As part of their electives, Texas students may take courses in technology applications. Students may choose from computer science, desktop publishing, graphics, webmastering, networking or any number of technology courses. The number of technology offerings depends on the size of the district and its financial ability to provide the wide variety of courses.
The third portion of Texas coursework allows students to choose a number of courses within their six electives that they feel can help them proceed with their educational and career plans. The first component is three and one-half electives in the fields of mathematics and science. For this component, students take the knowledge learned in core math and science classes and build on it. The second component allows the students to build three and one-half more credits of technology training into their schedules. Vocational training is also part of this component. The third component is an academic one. Students add three and one-half credits to their foundation courses to gain in-depth knowledge. Part of this component may also include additional technology training or fine arts. Additional credits taken within the chosen component or from other interests complete the required number of credits for graduation.