505 Application of Student Policy Manual

505.1 Graduation Requirements

The following are the requirements for graduation for students to earn a Spirit Lake Community School District High School diploma:

1. The accumulation of a minimum of fifty (50) credits. One credit is earned for the successful completion of a semester of work in a full-credit class that meets every day unless designated as a competency based course. The specific course requirements are outlined elsewhere in this series of policies.

2. A student may be eligible for graduation when the number of credits have been obtained, but not before the end of the third year of high school.

3. The high school principal/designee shall submit a list of persons eligible for diplomas or certificates of attendance to the Board for approval in the month of May each year.

4. The Home School Assistance Program Coordinator shall submit a list of persons eligible for certificates of completion to the Board of Directors for approval in the month of May each year.

5. Students must have successfully completed the District and state requirements for graduation to be eligible for participation in graduation exercises. The only exception will be for extenuating circumstances involving unforeseen and unavoidable situations. Such exceptions may be made at the discretion of the high school principal/designee.

6. Any student may, after four (4) years of attendance, make-up their failed classes through correspondence work or by returning to school. When these failed classes have been made-up, the student may receive a regular diploma.

7. Required courses taken at a post-secondary institution, which are duplicates of courses offered at the high school, will not count toward graduation requirements unless a course has been previously failed at the high school.

8. A maximum of four (4) elective courses taken at a post-secondary institution may be counted toward meeting the graduation requirements. These courses must be approved in advance by the principal/designee.

9.  Graduation requirements for special education students will be in accordance with this policy, unless an individual student’s individualized Education Program (IEP requires some other arrangement.  This may include additional services or courses, if those additional services or courses are determined by an individual student’s IEP Team to be necessary for a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  The IEP Team may waive particular graduation requirements in the policy, based on a particular child’s disability-related needs. However, beginning with the graduation class of 2022, students receiving special education services shall meet the state requirement of completing four years of English-language arts, and three years each of mathematics, science, and social studies (known as 4-3-3-3), with support and accommodations as described in their IEPs for graduation with a regular high school diploma.  An IEP Team may determine, based on a particular child’s educational needs, how the 4-3-3-3 requirements are met; however, an IEP Team may not waive this requirement.

10. According to the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education:  “Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 14, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include:  a. Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and b.  The transition services, including courses of study, needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.” Prior to special education student’s graduation, the IEP team will determine whether the graduation criteria have been met.  The superintendent may provide a certificate of completion/attendance to those students receiving special education services who do not complete 4-3-3-3 based on their IEP.  Students who receive a certificate of completion/attendance remain eligible for special education services until they reach the maximum age of twenty-one.

11.  Core diploma: A core diploma will be available for individual students, recommended and approved by the administration.  The core diploma will require earning 40 credits for graduation (8 English/LA, 6 Social Studies, 6 Science, 6 Math, 3 Physical Education, 1 Financial Foundations, 1 Personal Wellness, 1 21st Century Skills, 1 Leadership and Service, 1 Fine Arts, 2 Career Technical, and 4 Elective which can include work credit). The core diploma offers a different graduation pathway for those individuals facing life events or not planning to attend a four year college following graduation. This diploma is accepted by junior colleges and the Armed Forces, but is not currently accepted by four year postsecondary schools. This diploma is only available to students approved by the administration.

12. At graduation, seniors with a GPA of 3.50 or higher will be awarded a gold seal indicating the student “Graduated with Honors.” Seniors with a GPA of 3.0 - 3.49 will be awarded a silver seal indicating the student “Graduated with Recognition.”


Approved: 5/13/13


Revised: 6/10/13; 6/10/19; 3/9/20; 9/13/21

505.2 Early Graduation

Generally, students will be required to complete the necessary course work and graduate from high school at the end of grade twelve (12). Students may graduate prior to this time if they meet the minimum graduation requirements stated in the Board Policy. A student who graduates early will no longer be considered a student and will become an alumnus of the District.

Students are required to give notice of their intent to graduate early at spring registration. Application forms are available in the counselors’ offices and must be completed by December 1 for mid-term graduation and by April 1 for graduation at the end of the junior year.

Students who graduate early may attend the next graduation ceremony (e.g., if they graduate at the end of their junior year, they may attend that spring’s ceremony, or if they graduate at the end of the first semester of their senior year, they may attend the following spring’s ceremony). It will be the responsibility of the early graduates to check with the school, in advance of graduation, regarding:

1. Picking up announcement package;

2. Distribution of cap and gown;

3. Graduation practice.


Approved: 5/13/13                                       Reviewed:   6/10/19                                           Revised:

505.3 Course Requirements

The following are the course requirements for students to graduate from Spirit Lake Community School District High School:

1. Science:  Six (6) credits, must include two (2) biology credits, and topics in Earth science Chemistry and Physics.

2. Mathematics:  Six (6) credits of mathematics.

3. Social Studies:  Six (6) credits of social studies, must include two (2) American History credits, one (1) world history credit, two (2) government credits and one (1) elective credit.

4. English/Language Arts:  Eight (8) credits, must include two (2) English I credits, two (2) English II credits, two (2) English III credits (includes American Literature) and two (2) elective credits.

5. Business Financial Literacy: One (1) credit**

6. Physical Education:  Three (3) credits, must include one (1) semester of physical education per year. Students may exempt from PE their senior year by meeting one of the state appointed exemptions.

7.  Vocational Education (CTE): Two (2) elective credits in business, family & consumer science, industrial education or agricultural education.

8. Fine Arts:  One (1) elective credit.  Foreign language may be used to meet this requirement.

9.  Personal Wellness (Health): One (1) credit** 

10. 21st Century Skills:  One (1) credit**

11.  Leadership and Service:  One (1) credit**

12.  J-Term:  One and a half (1.5) credits**

Special Education Classes:  Special education students must attend classes pursuant to Board Policy.

Locally determined requirements (non bolded items above) may be waived by the building principal for those students with scheduling conflicts who carry a full course load for four (4) years.

All students are required to carry a "full load," defined as six (6) classes plus physical education (PE), at least one semester per year.  Exceptions must be approved by the high school principal.  

**Will be reached through Competency Based Pathways


Approved: 5/13/13                Reviewed:           Revised: 6/10/13; 5/14/18; 6/10/19; 3/9/20

505.4 Commencement

Students who have met the requirements for graduation will be allowed to participate in the commencement activities provided they abide by the proceedings organized by the school District. It is the responsibility of the principal to solicit input from each graduating class regarding the proceedings for their commencement.

Failure of a student to participate in commencement will not be a reason for withholding the student's final progress report or diploma certifying the student's completion of high school.

The Board may exclude students from participation for violation of rules established for the orderly governance of the school.


Approved: 2/17/74                                  Reviewed:    6/10/19                                        Revised: 1/11/10; 5/13/13

505.5 Student Honors and Awards

The District shall provide a program that establishes honors and awards including, but not limited to, academic letters, scholarships, and good citizenship awards for students to assist students in setting goals. Students shall be made aware of honors and awards and the action necessary on the part of the student to achieve them. Students who have not attended the school district for their entire education or have not attended an accredited public or private school may not be eligible for honors and awards.


Approved: 11/14/67                                       Reviewed:  6/10/19                                                       Revised: 12/14/09; 5/13/13

505.6 Student Promotion and Retention

Students will be promoted to the next grade level at the end of each school year based on the student’s achievement, age, maturity, emotional stability, and social adjustment.

The retention of a student will be determined based upon the judgment of the licensed employee and the principal. When it becomes evident a student in grades kindergarten through eight may be retained in a grade level for an additional year, the parents will be informed. It shall be the responsibility of the building principal to retain students in their current grade level.

Students in grades nine through twelve will be informed of the required coursework necessary to be promoted each year. When it becomes evident a student in these grades will be unable to meet the minimum credit requirements for the year, the student and parents will be informed. It shall be the responsibility of the building principal to retain students in their current grade level and to deny promotion to a student.

Students in grades kindergarten through twelve with exceptional talents may, with the permission of the principal and parents, take classes beyond their current grade level. Enrichment opportunities outside the school district may be allowed when they do not conflict with the school district’s graduation requirements.


Approved: 7/20/81

Reviewed: 6/10/19

Revised: 2/14/11; 6/10/13