In 2004, Missouri formed a task force to study the state's high schools and put forth criteria for strengthening preparation for life. The State Board of Education established a set of minimum standards based on those recommendations. School boards can exercise flexibility on coursework as long as core courses adhere to the established Missouri Show-Me Standards and Grade Level Expectations. Missouri graduation requirements include successful completion of 24 units of credit prior to high school graduation. A student earns a unit of credit when he meets all course requirements with a satisfactory score in a 7,830 minutes-per-year course.
Graduates must successfully complete at least four units of credit in Communication Arts. Courses allow for the mastering of skills and knowledge in composition, speaking, reading, standard grammar and usage, along with interpreting and appreciating different genres of literature. Courses also cover reading, using and interpreting schedules, graphs, technical manuals and other forms of written communication.
To ensure that Missouri graduates have strong problem-solving skills along with a solid foundation of mathematical concepts, students must earn at least three credit units in math. Topics include data analysis, measurement, statistics, algebraic thinking, geometry and spatial sense, number theory, mathematical systems, numbers sense, patterns and relationships.
Graduates of Missouri high schools must also earn at least three credit units of social studies to ensure the mastery of knowledge and skills in American history, world history, geography, civic responsibility, economic systems, and functions and governmental functions. At least one-half unit must be in government.
A student must complete at least three units of science to receive a high school diploma in Missouri. Students must master the principles, laws and unifying concepts to all the sciences, including competently applying the scientific method and organizing and solving problems in career, consumer and technical settings.
Graduates must also have one credit unit in fine arts, practical arts and physical education. The State Board of Education also requires one-half credit unit in personal finance. Other credit units come via electives that should include at least two credit units of a foreign language.