Bill Aims to Add More Science, Math to Wisconsin’s High School Graduation Requirements

Even with additional requirement, Wisconsin will still trail Alabama and Mississippi in the number of math and science credits needed to graduate

November 12, 2013


Senate Bill 51 passed the full Senate on Tuesday on a voice vote.

by Christian D’Andrea
MacIver Institute Education Policy Analyst

[Madison, Wisc…] It’s unanimous; Wisconsin’s Assembly Education Committee members want higher standards for the state’s high school students. The committee heard Senate Bill 51, which would add additional math and science requirements to Wisconsin’s high school diploma program, on Tuesday. They passed the measure on a 10-0 vote.

The proposed legislation would increase the number of credits a high school student needs in math and science to graduate. Current law requires two credits in both math and science. SB 51 would increase the requirement for both subjects to three credits.

Wisconsin currently has the lowest math and science graduation requirements in the midwest. This proposal would finally bring Wisconsin’s standards for graduation up to midwestern standards and Wisconsin would actually surpass Illinois’s requirements. Here’s what other nearby states require from their students in order to earn a high school diploma.

SB 51 Table .png

While the state’s overall graduation requirements are still comparatively low, adding more of an initiative behind math and science learning would put Wisconsin on pace to match its Midwestern peers. It should also be noted that while 15 credits would be the minimum requirement, most Wisconsin high school students far exceed that figure by the time that they graduate.

Even with the higher standards, Wisconsin would trail several other American states when it comes to the coursework one needs to graduate. Here are a few notable requirements from across the country.

SB 51 Table 2.png

Most southern states have significantly higher graduation requirements than the new heightened standards that Wisconsin is shooting for. While every state sets their reading/writing/English requirements at four credits, these science and math credits can vary considerably from border to border.

Increasing the state’s science and mathematics requirements is a step in the right direction. However, Wisconsin still trails the national curve when it comes to dictating what skills students will need to graduate and move on to either higher education or a professional career. Most students will go above and beyond these standards, but those aren’t the young adults that the state has to worry about. Upping graduation standards will help ensure that fewer students need remediation in college and are better prepared for life out of high school.