Curriculum & Graduation Requirements
A Jesuit Approach to Education
The Jesuit approach to education reaches back five centuries and is deeply rooted in the experience of St. Ignatius of Loyola and his Jesuit companions. St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises are a "school of prayer" that has shaped the Jesuit experience over the centuries. Out of this approach to prayer and listening to God has arisen a unique approach to education. Strake Jesuit actively strives to develop its faculty, staff and students in this spiritual and academic tradition. The goal is to invite them into a formative experience that is rooted in deep experience and reflection so that the acquisition of knowledge is not merely accumulating information. Instead, a Jesuit education develops the reflective, critical, and spiritual potential of students as well as their commitment to action and sharing of their gifts. Chief characteristics of this tradition include:
St. Ignatius emphasized the need to know the person receiving the Spiritual Exercises, taking into account their unique abilities and personality. Strake Jesuit continues this tradition with an emphasis on knowing our students, providing individual care and development of their potential.
Finding God in All Things
A Jesuit education invites students to experience the wonder of God’s creation through the disciplines they explore. Rather than a disparate set of disciplines studied to satisfy the demands of a mandated curriculum, a Jesuit education considers all learning as an experience of the many rays of truth that find their source and goal in our Creator.
Experience and Excellence
St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises provide a context in which one may encounter God through rigorous "exercises" involving the intellect, imagination and will. Rigorous application of these human capacities is the avenue by which one comes to personal contact with the realities that are considered. Jesuit classes are based on challenging, experience-based knowledge that allows for deeper knowledge and critical reflection. Our students are pushed to become the very best they can be through a rigorous curriculum that seeks to develop their full potential.
The Spiritual Exercises are intended to provide a set of experiences that become the basis of fundamental decision or action. Jesuit students are challenged in a way that invites them to consider their gifts, including their education, as a call to responsibility and action. “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ?” These questions posed by St. Ignatius are one expression of the responsibilities for service and mission that result from the education our students receive.
1. Course Offerings for 2020-21
The Course Offerings document provides a two-page list of all courses offered at Jesuit. The list includes each course's number, name, and credits earned. For Course Offerings, click here.
2. Course Descriptions for 2020-21
The Course Descriptions document is a more lengthy document that provides comprehensive, detailed information about each course. In addition to course number, name and credits earned, this document includes a written summary of the content of each course as well as prerequisites applicable to each. For Course Descriptions, click here.
3. Graduation Requirements by Subject Area
Jesuit students will meet the following graduation requirements. Required core courses are listed in green boxes below. These required core courses must be taken during the year in which they are listed. Course specific information for the classes of 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 is provided near the bottom of this webpage.
During each of their four years, students must take at least one credit in Theology, English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Students must take two courses in Foreign Language, one during sophomore year and one during freshman year, regardless of the level of their first language course at Jesuit. All freshmen will take a course in Physical Education.
Jesuit offers a variety of electives available to students beginning their sophomore year. Zero, 8th, and open periods listed in the Graduation Requirements chart above indicate periods available to take elective credits. Students should speak with their Academic & Personal Counselor, or their College Counselor, about their elective choices.
Available Elective Classes
Available elective courses for each grade level are listed in the PDFs below. Students must have taken the appropriate prerequisites before enrolling in a particular course. For course prerequisites, see Course Descriptions document by clicking here. Students may not take the same course twice as credit toward his graduation requirements. For example, a student could not take Biology 1 freshman year and then repeat Biology 1 his senior year to earn credit toward his graduation requirement.
Computer Science is recommended as an elective sophomore year.
Although not required, computer science classes are recommended as an elective beginning sophomore year. Computer science classes at Jesuit offer students a chance to move beyond solely "using" a computer; instead, students are given hands-on experience with the knowledge and technologies driving our digital world. Additionally, students who study computer science learn to break complex problems down into manageable steps, a skill applicable to many domains. With these benefits in mind, Jesuit offers year-long computer science courses such as AP Computer Science, AP Computer Science Principles, and Projects in Computer Science. In addition, semester long electives are available such as Business Computing, Computer Science for Engineers, Webpage Design, and Mobile App Development. Students are encouraged to speak with their Academic & Personal Counselor, or their College Counselor, about their elective choices.
Completion through Level 3 of a foreign language is strongly recommended for most students.
Jesuit strongly recommends that students take up to Level 3 of a foreign language because it allows students the opportunity to develop a more permanent understanding of the language by applying the vocabulary and grammar rules learned in the first two years of study. Additionally, many colleges and universities consider a third year of a language as a boost to the perceived rigor of a student's schedules with regard to college admissions. Some universities such as the University of Texas and Texas A&M only require two years of a foreign language. Regardless, Jesuit strongly recommends completion through Level 3 of a foreign language. Some students will also want to consider taking foreign language classes through Level 4 or Level 5. Students are encouraged to speak with their Academic & Personal Counselor or their College Counselor about their elective choices.
Students may count some credits earned in extracurricular courses towards their graduation requirements. However, no more than one credit in each of the following may count towards graduation requirements. For example, a student who is enrolled in Band all four years at Jesuit may apply only one Band credit towards his fine arts elective credit. He may not apply additional Band credits earned towards his other elective requirements. Likewise, a student enrolled in SJET all four years may only count one SJET credit towards an open elective credit requirement.
Fine Arts Extracurricular Electives
Music: Band or Orchestra
Other Extracurricular Electives
* Physical Education or Athletics during sophomore, junior or senior year
* Freshmen do not earn graduation credits for participation in athletics during their freshman year because they may not be enrolled in more than one PE class. The University Interscholastic League (UIL) rules specifically prohibit students from being enrolled in more than one PE and/or Athletic PE class in a given year. Since all freshmen are enrolled in 'Foundations of Personal Fitness,' a for-credit, year-long, PE course, they may not enroll in additional PE or Athletic PE classes during freshman year.
GPA Exemption for Extracurricular Courses
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have a cumulative GPA above 3.90 have the option of taking extracurricular courses on a GPA-exempt basis. If a student takes one of these courses on a GPA-exempt basis, the grade he receives for the course will not be included in calculating his GPA. However, he will still receive a letter grade for the course on his transcript. Additionally, he may apply the GPA-exempt status to extracurricular courses taken during previous years. To be eligible to take a course on a GPA-exempt basis, the student must be a sophomore, junior, or senior and have above a 3.90 GPA.
According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), endorsements consist of "a related series of courses that are grouped together by interest or skill set." Put simply, they provide a pathway for students to gain in-depth knowledge of a particular subject area. Endorsements allow students to be recognized by a notation on their transcript of the knowledge and skills earned in a particular area of focus. When a student completes the requirements for a particular endorsement, it will be noted on his transcript.
In order for Jesuit students to graduate with a 'Distinguished Degree Plan,' they must earn at least one endorsement. Since all Jesuit students under the new degree plan automatically earn a 'Multidisciplinary Endorsement' by completing Jesuit's minimum graduation requirements, earning additional endorsements is not necessary. Although students are not required to earn additional endorsements, they may choose to do so. Students should talk with their Academic & Personal Counselor or College Counselor about the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing additional endorsements, as well as possible pathways toward earning them. Jesuit recommends that a student take the courses which most interest him and prepare him for his college studies, regardless of endorsement implications.
Jesuit will offer the following endorsements which may be earned by choosing one of the pathways under each endorsement.
All students earn this endorsement by completing Jesuit’s minimum graduation requirements.
Arts & Humanities Endorsement
Option 1: Complete five credits in Social Studies by taking one additional Social Studies elective
Option 2: Complete four credits in the same foreign language by taking two additional foreign language electives in that language
Option 3: Complete two credits in two different foreign languages by taking two additional foreign language electives in a new language
Option 4: Complete four credits in no more than two of the following Fine Arts disciplines: Music, Visual Arts, or Theater. This may include credits taken in Band, Orchestra, Choir and Theater during zero or 8th period as well as credits awarded in Fine Arts courses taken during the day.
Business & Industry Endorsement
Option 1: Take Business Computing (0.5), Business & Personal Finance (0.5), and Accounting (0.5)
Option 2: Complete three credits in Debate
Option 3: Complete three credits in Journalism
Option 4: Complete three credits in Yearbook
Option 5: Complete three credits in SJET
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Endorsement
Option 1: Complete five credits in Mathematics by either (1) placing out of Algebra I, or (2) take one additional Math elective after completing Algebra II such as AP Computer Science or AP Statistics.
Option 2: Complete five credits in Science by taking one additional Science elective
Option 3: Complete one credit in Computer Science
6. Distinguished Level of Achievement
By completing our minimum graduation requirements, all Strake Jesuit students graduate at a 'Distinguished Level of Achievement' in the state of Texas. All Jesuit students earn a 'Distinguished' diploma since our minimum graduation requirements include completion of four credits in math (including Algebra II), four credits in science, and obtaining at least one endorsement. Additionally students in the top 7-10% of their class are automatically eligible for top 7-10% automatic admission to state universities in Texas.
7. Performance Acknowledgements
Students can earn a performance acknowledgement on their transcript for outstanding performance on a college Advanced Placement (AP) test, or on the PSAT, SAT, or the ACT.
8. Dual Credit Courses
Strake Jesuit currently offers two dual credit theology courses with the University of St. Thomas. This program enables a Strake Jesuit senior to simultaneously earn high school credit toward graduation and up to six hours of college credit. The courses are taught in Strake Jesuit classrooms by Strake Jesuit teachers. However, the student will receive a transcript from the the University of St. Thomas at the conclusion of the course. How the credit for these courses is transferred to the student's college of choice will be determined by the student and the college. The registration cost of the courses at the University are paid for by the student.
9. Advanced Placement (AP) and Accelerated (AC) Courses
Advanced Placement (AP) and Accelerated (AC) courses are advanced courses offered to students who have excelled in a particular subject and who are ready to embrace a challenging course of study. While all courses at Jesuit are taught at the college preparatory level, AP and AC courses are considered ‘honors’ courses and require high-level academic skills and a commitment to excellence in a particular subject. Students are awarded one extra grade point on their GPA's for taking an AP or AC course. For example, a student earning an A in a non-AP/AC course would earn 4.0 grade points, while a student in an AP or AC course would earn 5.0 grade points.
AP and AC Courses Offered
For a list of all AP and AC courses offered at Jesuit see the Course Offerings and Course Descriptions documents.
Difference Between AP and AC
AP (Advanced Placement) courses are honors courses that follow the College Board's Advanced Placement curriculum. Students enrolled in AP courses are required to take the AP exam associated with the course in May. An additional fee is required for AP courses to cover the cost of the College Board's fee to take the AP exam. AC, or 'Accelerated' courses, are honors courses that are just as demanding as AP courses, but students in AC courses are not required to take the AP exam at the end of the course.
If a student wishes to be considered for enrollment in an AP or AC course, he should first check the listed expectations in the AP and AC Course Expectations document. Please closely review the overview and placement process into these courses.
Students are limited to four credits of AP and AC courses in a given year. Juniors and seniors can petition to take an additional AP or AC course if they have successfully navigated a substantial number of AP or AC courses in the previous year and have displayed a unique ability to balance rigorous academics with their personal and spiritual life. The form to request an additional AP or AC course is available here. A student's Academic & Personal counselor is available for additional information or questions.
Applying for AP or AC Courses
Incoming freshmen may apply for AP World History during the online registration process in March/April of a student's 8th grade year. Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors apply for enrollment in AP or AC courses during the course selection process held early in the spring semester. Placement into AP or AC courses is determined by the Assistant Principal for Academics in conjunction with Department Chairs, counselors, and faculty members. Factors considered in the placement process include, but are not limited to, a student’s academic record, standardized test scores (PLAN, PSAT, HSPT, etc), teacher recommendations, counselor recommendations, total number of course requests, and available class sections. Final decisions regarding placement into AP and AC classes will be made in May.
If a student is not placed into an AP or AC course that he has requested, he should review the AP and AC Course Expectations document paying particular attention to selection process. If after doing this, he would like to appeal the decision, he should submit the following form and the Assistant Principal for Academics will review the appeal.
10. Course Specific Information
Below is a chart which outlines course specific information.
Freshman Math Placement
A student may place out of Algebra 1 and/or Geometry if he has (1) taken the course in middle school and (2) scored a passing grade on Strake Jesuit's mathematics placement exams. Credit will be awarded for these courses on a student's transcript on a pass/fail basis and will not impact a student's grade point average. Once a student begins his studies at Jesuit, he may not place out of mathematics courses. However, students who perform well in Algebra 2 as juniors may take Calculus as seniors.
Freshman Foreign Language Placement
A student may place out of a foreign language course if he scores a passing grade on Strake Jesuit's foreign language placement exams. Credit will be awarded for these courses on a student's transcript on a pass/fail basis and will not impact a student's grade point average. Once a student begins his studies at Jesuit, he may not place out of foreign language courses within the language that they are studying. For example, a student may not place out of Spanish 2 after taking Spanish 1 at Jesuit. Additionally, all students must take two language courses at Strake Jesuit, regardless of the level of their first language course at Jesuit.
Freshman Social Studies Placement
Students have a choice between enrolling in World History or requesting to be placed into a college-level AP World History course. AP World History is a demanding course intended for students with a strong work ethic who are prepared to complete significant reading and writing assignments on a college level. Placement into this course will be determined by the Assistant Principal for Academics in conjunction with the Social Studies department chair and freshmen counselors. Factors included in the placement process include a student’s academic record in middle school with a particular focus on his performance in English and Reading, standardized test scores in middle school, entrance exam scores, overall strength of application, and teacher recommendations. All students enrolled in AP World History are required to take the AP World History exam in May, which will give students a chance to earn college credit. The cost of this course is $94, which covers the cost of the exam.
11. Frequently Asked Questions
What is the history behind the new graduation requirements?
The State Board of Education adopted new graduation requirements in January 2014. The Texas Catholic Conference Education Division (TCCED), the accrediting body for Strake Jesuit, updated its graduation requirements to reflect these changes for its member schools in January and March of 2015. In light of TCCED’s changes, and after a thorough re-examination of our graduation requirements, Strake Jesuit used this opportunity to ensure that all its students are engaged in a well rounded, liberal arts program of rigorous college preparation that is rooted in the Jesuit approach to education.
What is the 'Speech Proficiency' half-credit awarded freshman year?
Students will be granted a half-credit in Speech Proficiency at the end of their freshmen year. This credit will be awarded on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards a student's GPA. To satisfy this requirement, students will participate in speech-related projects in their science, social studies, theology, and counseling classes. These projects will assist students in building the following skills:
Delivering clear verbal messages
Choosing effective nonverbal behaviors
Listening for desired results
Applying valid critical-thinking and problem-solving processes
Identifying, analyzing, developing, and evaluating communication skills needed for professional and social success in interpersonal situations, group interactions and personal and professional presentations.
What is the 'Computer Applications' half-credit awarded sophomore year?
Students will be granted a half credit for their participation in the student iPad program. Strake Jesuit believes the skills learned in using an iPad for note-taking, content creation, collaboration, and communication are essential for our students. The Computer Applications credit will be awarded on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards a student's GPA.
What is the 'Community Service' half-credit awarded junior year?
Students will be granted a half credit for their completion of the required service work and corresponding written reflections following their junior year. To be awarded the Community Service credit, students are required to complete 15 hours of service in their freshmen and sophomore year and are required to complete 25 hours of service in their junior year. Additionally students must complete a written reflection, click here. The Community Service credit will be awarded on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards a student's GPA.
What is the 'Senior Service Project' half-credit awarded senior year?
Following the fall semester of their senior year, students will be granted a half credit for their completion of 100 hours of service work and the corresponding written reflection and interview. For more information regarding our senior service program, click here. The Senior Service Project credit will be awarded on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards a student's GPA.