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Which science classes are required for high school graduation?

You can see the details of your school's graduation requirements on their website. I have listed links to the larger charter schools below. As you can see, the State of California requires students to take at least two science classes: one that concentrates on life and the other emphasizing physical science. Typically, this is done by taking Biology and Chemistry but that is not the only way to do it. Unless your charter specifies differently, any high school level life science and physical science fulfills the requirements.

Life Sciences include...
  • Biology

  • Anatomy & Physiology

  • Life Science

  • Zoology

  • Marine Biology

  • Ecology

Physical Sciences include...
  • Chemistry

  • Physics

  • Physical Science

  • Earth Science

  • Environmental Studies

What does A-G mean and is important to my family?

A-G requirements are a set of minimum requirements for high school classes. Completing a class that meets the standard tells universities that the student has met certain criteria for focus, topic, rigor, and breadth in that subject and is now ready and able to succeed in a college level course.


The intent of the UC and CSU system in creating the a-g standards is to ensure high school classes cover important concepts to prepare students for the intensity of university courses. 

The term a-g refers to subject matter:

a. History/Social Science (2 years)

b. English (4 years)

c. Mathematics (3 years, UC recommends 4)

d. Laboratory Science (2 years, UC recommends 3)

e. Language Other than English (2 years, UC recommends 3)

f. Visual/Performing Arts (1 year)

g. College Preparatory Elective (1 year)

Is it mandatory that we use Canvas for Full STEAM classes?

For high school level classes, using Canvas is required.

All Full STEAM classes are attached to the Learning Management System called Canvas. 


Canvas provides several important benefits to the students, their families, and their instructors.  


  • It helps teachers streamline communication. 

  • It allows students, parents, and ESs to access details and grades for assignments.

  • It provides a platform to make-up missed classes.

  • It holds all important documents (lab reports, worksheets, tests) so lost paperwork can easily be replaced.

  • It helps the student manage their time as they can readily see all upcoming content and due dates.

  • At the high school level ,it also contains virtual labs and other online assignments that are a regular part of the class curriculum. 

  • It prepares students for using an LMS, which is required in most colleges and universities (thus helping in the STEAM approach).

Even though it may be a transition for some parents to use an online classroom platform, the benefits are worth the effort. 


Canvas also has an app for students so they can study, take tests, and check their grades any time on a mobile device.

What's the difference between high school graduation requirements and UC/CSU requirements?

UC/CSU requirements are set by the university of California system with the goal that students who meet these requirements will be well prepared and more likely to succeed at the university level.  Therefore, the requirements are more demanding than the standard graduation requirements. UC requirements are even more academically rigorous than the requirements for CSU. Check out this chart for a side-by-side comparison.

The UC system requires three high school level sciences instead of two.

  • One Life Science

  • One Physical Science

  • A third course from either category.


This is where your student can choose to follow their interests.


The UC specifies Biology and either Chemistry or Physics must be taken, but the third option is your choice. Choosing a third class that is in line with your major can help you express your passion on your college application. 

Which requirement track is best for my student?

The answer is personal, of course, but here are a few questions you can ask yourself and your family to help determine which track to follow.


Keep in mind that it's hard for a 14 year old to accurately predict what their interests will be in 5, 10, or 15 years.  So you may want to aim higher than their current interest level would place them so they do not miss an opportunity that they may wish to take in the future.

Is your student interested in a career that requires an upper level degree?

If your student is interested in engineering, medicine, law, education, or technology, chances are, specialized training from a university will be necessary.

If your child expresses interest in a field trade that typically requires an apprenticeship and/or a license or certificate like construction (carpentry, welding, electrical, masonry), or public service professions (cosmetology, hospitality), a college education may not be needed, though it can serve them well in managing their own business. Concentrating on basic graduation requirements, may allow them to take the time to participate in extra curricular activities that will give them a jump start on the experience they need.

What type of college would your student like to attend?

All colleges and universities want to see prospective students who have completed a minimum of rigorous academic coursework.  However, Princeton's standards and California State Universities' standards vary quite a bit.


Visit campuses, even if they're not on your student's radar at this time. The "feel" of a campus can invigorate and inspire a student. If your students are interested in a private university, don't assume that their qualifications are less stringent. Double check the university's website to see what they're looking for, the percentage of applicants they accept, and the stats on the student that are accepted.

What about community college?

Community college is a fantastic option for many students. Unless your students know their desired area of focus and knows which 4-year school they want to attend, going to the local Junior College can give them the time, flexibility, and education they need to meet their goals.


UCs and CSUs give high priority to community college students who have finished their general education requirements (called IGETC). If your students did not receive the highest GPA or if they do not take or did not do well on the SATs or ACTS, then community college is a perfect choice.


Community colleges accept all students with a high school diploma or equivalent. The application deadline is usually much later in the year than 4 year universities. University applications are commonly due in November of the student's senior year.

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