Ethnic studies to become a graduation requirement for California high school students

California will add ethnic studies to its list of courses required to graduate from high school, starting with the class of 2030.

Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill making California the first in the nation to list ethnic studies as a graduation requirement for all public high school students. Under the legislation known as Assembly Bill 101, all public schools in California will be required to offer a one-semester ethnic studies course by the 2025-26 school year, with the graduation requirement taking effect in 2029-30.

“Ethnic studies courses enable students to learn their own stories, and those of their classmates, and a number of studies have shown that these courses boost student achievement over the long run — especially among students of color,” Newsom said in a statement.

In March 2021, after four years and four drafts, the California Board of Education approved the first-ever ethnic studies model curriculum as a guidance document for teachers and administrators who are considering developing their own coursework. The resource, which can be found on the California Department of Education website, was created by a content-specific advisory committee and took into account more than 100,000 public comments.

For a deeper dive, take a look at OCDE Newsroom’s five questions (and answers) about ethnic studies, or read a recap of the virtual forum on ethnic studies hosted by Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares in July 2021.