State Policy

Graduating From High School In California: Students’ Rights & Information about the Law

If you are a student, click here If you are a school counselor, click here

If any one of these situations applies to you:

And if both of these apply to you:

You changed schools any time after 10th grade AND You probably can’t graduate from high school in 4 years. Then you can:

  1. Stay in high school an extra year (a 5th year) to finish your graduation requirements OR Get a state diploma* (easier than a regular diploma), if you can’t finish all your graduation requirements in 4 or 5 years of high school
  2. Even if you never changed schools, you get partial credit for any part of a course you completed, even if you didn’t finish the course.

*A state high school diploma requires fewer credits than a regular district high school diploma, so it’s easier to get. BUT, keep in mind that with a state diploma, you will not be able to go directly into a four-year state college or university. You will be able to go directly into a community college.

Ask your counselor about partial credits and graduation options today!

This information below will help your counselor understand the law. If your counselor can’t help you, try your district “homeless education liaison.” If that person can’t help, contact the state “homeless education coordinator,” or email us!

California’s School Counselors Have Powerful Legal Tools to Help Highly Mobile Students Graduate.

1. Partial Credits

School districts, charter schools, and county offices of education must accept partial credit for partial coursework satisfactorily completed by students in another school who are:

Credits must be accepted even if the student did not complete the entire course.

School districts, charter schools, and county offices of education also must:

2. Diplomas

Students who are:


As well as:

Have the right to:


*If students may be able to attain a regular diploma in five years of high school, it is best to encourage them to stay and work toward that goal, as a regular diploma opens up more opportunities than a state diploma, particularly for college.