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Earning Your Michigan High School Diploma
The state of Michigan requires all high school students meet the Michigan Merit Curriculum and pass the Michigan Merit Exam to earn a state high school diploma. Adult students must also meet these requirements if they were in the eighth grade during or after the 2005-2006 year school year.
Michigan Merit Curriculum
The Michigan Merit Curriculum requires a total of eighteen credits for completion. There is a four credit requirement for mathematics, and students must complete one math-related credit during their final year of high school enrollment. Elective courses include pre-calculus, business math or math as part of career or technical training. In English, students must acquire four credits that are aligned with subject area expectations, which need to be approved by the State Board of Education. Four credit classes in language arts that emphasize writing, speaking and research are needed. Students must also demonstrate critical thinking skills, including analyzing classic and contemporary literature and film.
In Science, students must take three science credits that include biology, physics or chemistry. They must know about scientific inquiry and how science impacts society. In Social Studies, at least three credits are needed in topics such as world history, geography, U.S. history, economics or civics.
Students must complete two credits in a spoken or written language. A health and physical education requirement is also needed, along with one credit in online learning. Students must complete one credit in visual, performing and applied arts.
The Michigan Merit Exam
The state requires that students take the Michigan Merit Exam, a three-part exam that includes the SAT college entrance exam, WorkKeys job skills testing and the Michigan-developed Science and Social Studies M-STEP. Students with severe disabilities may take the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test. More details on the Michigan Merit Curriculum, the Merit exam and adult education are on the state website (michigan.gov).
Options for Adult Students
Adult students may have their high school transcripts reviewed at adult education centers throughout the state to determine if they must comply with the Merit Curriculum and take the accompanying exam. In addition to credits already earned, adult students may qualify for graduation credit if they've done equivalent work in trade school, completed college courses or obtained work or volunteer experience. There are multiple Adult Education Center sites statewide, and you may locate them through the Workforce Development Agency section on the state website (michigan.gov/wda).
Why Get A High School Diploma in Michigan?
Each level of education you complete can lead to an increase in employment and economic advantages. According to 2016 findings by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers without a high school diploma had the highest unemployment rate (7.4%) and lowest income earnings among all education levels. A 2016 study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) also found a correlation between employment rates and high school graduation for 20- to 24-year-olds. High school graduates attained a 69% employment rate, while non-graduates only held a 48% employment rate. Earning your high school diploma in Michigan will give you the skills and knowledge employers are seeking and can lead to higher income levels and more job security in the workforce.