New MMC FAQ Has Important Updates For Scheduling Season

Bob Kefgen's picture

Scheduling season is here! You may already be underway with scheduling classes for the 2018-19 school year. If not, you are certain to start the process in the coming weeks. This week, we want to highlight some key revisions made to MDE's MMC Frequently Asked Questions. This revised document was originally released in September 2017, so you may have seen it already or you may have simply put it in your pile of things to deal with at scheduling time.

To be clear, these changes provide some additional clarity on how MDE is interpreting the MMC law. They are not changes to the law itself and you may already be familiar with some or all of these points. However, this guidance document has been somewhat ambiguous in the past and the most recent revisions help alleviate that. As always, remember that the MMC is a floor, not a ceiling, and local districts can establish graduation requirements that are more rigid and/or rigorous than what is in the law or guidance.

Let's review some of the key changes that Principals should be aware of going into next year. To make things easier, I've sorted the questions below by subject area and included a clickable table of contents so you can skim or more easily refer back to this later. You'll note that not every area of the MMC is listed and that many of the items below are excerpts rather than full text…this is because not every area of the FAQ had significant updates and I wanted to focus on key items. Yes, this is a long article…but, it's still shorter than the 22 page FAQ.

General Guidance

The revised MMC FAQ clarifies that double-dipping on MMC credits is completely allowed.

Q: Do we have to worry about "double-dipping"; in other words, can a course count towards credit in more than one content area?
A: Yes, courses can be used to grant more than one credit. Since credit is based on student proficiency with the content, how and where they learn the content has no bearing on credit as long as students satisfactorily demonstrate proficiency on district-determined measures. For instance, a student who takes a class that addresses both physics and mathematics concepts should be able to earn partial, or full, credit in both subjects once they demonstrate knowledge of the content.

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World Language

MASSP has gotten a number of questions since we put out a reminder that the world language credit requirements were changing with this year's 8th graders (Class of 2022). This item isn't actually a change in the FAQ, but does clarify what options are available to schools. For more on this, make sure to read MASSP's article.

Q: How can students meet the [world language] requirement?
A: Students can meet the world language requirement in the following ways:

  • By completing the equivalent of 2 credits in a language other than English during Grades K-12.
  • Through learning beyond the K-12 classroom: formal study abroad, study abroad programs, college coursework, home or heritage languages, online courses, or other life experiences as determined by the district.
  • Students who are graduating from high school in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, or 2021, only may partially or fully fulfill 1 credit of the World Language requirement by completing a Department approved formal CTE program or by completing Visual, Performing, or Applied Arts instruction that is in addition to the Visual, Performing, and Applied Arts requirement.
  • More information and guidelines on meeting the credit requirements for learning a language other than English can be found at

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The excerpts below (emphasis added) highlight some key points that have been less clearly stated in previous FAQs.

  1. MDE's interprets the language of the MMC law to say that there are no specific math courses that districts have to provide, they just have to offer courses that align to the state's standards.
  2. While the MMC requires 4 credits of math, only 3 credits need to be aligned to state standards.
  3. The 4th math credit does not need to be awarded in an actual math course.
  4. The requirement for all students to take math in their final year means early/middle college students need to take a math class in their 5th year.

Q: What are the required courses for mathematics?
A: There are no required courses. Students must earn at least 3 credits in mathematics that are aligned with subject area standards approved by the State Board. Each pupil must successfully complete at least one mathematics or mathematics-related credit during his or her final year of high school enrollment. This credit can be earned through any course or experience where students are applying mathematics.

Q: Does mathematics have to be taught in a traditional course sequence?
A: No. The law specifically states that the standards can be taught in an integrated sequence [see MCL 380.1278b(5)(g)].

Q: What is the difference between the 4th mathematics credit and the final year mathematics course requirement?
A: In many cases the 4th mathematics credit and the final year mathematics requirement are one and the same....However, the 4th mathematics credit is not necessarily synonymous with the final year math credit. The intent of the final year math credit is that students are doing some sort of mathematics in their senior year regardless of whether they have already met the 4 credit requirement.

Q: Does the 4th credit/final year mathematics course need to be an actual mathematics course?
A: No. The law provides local districts with the flexibility to determine what counts for the 4th/final year mathematics credit, including the content and duration. It does not need to be aligned with the mathematics standards because those are covered in the other 3 credits... Non-mathematics courses or experiences where students apply mathematics can count as the 4th credit/Senior year mathematics course such as computer programming, science or art courses; Career and Technical Education (CTE), work study program, or practicum where the students are using the mathematics they have already learned.

Q: What is considered the "final year" in the context of the mathematics credit for students in Early Middle College?
A: Early middle college students must take a mathematics or math-related course in their 5th year.

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The new information here centers on the 3rd science credit, and the rules around what courses can be exchanged for the third science credit rather than using a non-science course that integrates science standards.

Q: What course(s) may serve as a student's 3rd Science credit?
A: Districts determine content, structure, and delivery of Science courses. The standards themselves represent 3 science credits. Districts are responsible for ensuring that students have an opportunity to learn the content outlined by the Michigan Science Standards since these will be tested on the 11th grade Michigan Merit Exam.

Q: Can a student take a CTE class for the 3rd Science credit?
A: Any course or program, including CTE, which integrates Science content may count as the 3rd science credit. If the 3rd Science credit is exchanged for [successful completion of] a formal CTE program or curriculum then science content does not need to be integrated. However, districts are responsible for ensuring that students have an opportunity to learn the content as outlined in the Michigan Science Standards since these will be tested on the 11th grade Michigan Merit Exam.

Q: Can a student take a computer science class for the 3rd Science credit?
A: Any course or program, including a computer science course, which integrates science content may count as the 3rd Science credit. Currently there is not a department-approved computer science program or curriculum that can be exchanged for the 3rd science credit.

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Social Studies

Three new laws passed last session dealing with social studies requirements under the MMC: a personal economics option, a requirement to integrate the content covered by the US citizenship test, and a requirement to include genocide education instruction. The following four items do a nice job of clarifying how these laws work with the MMC.

Q: How does the legislation change regarding personal finance impact my Economics curriculum? Don't we already have personal Economics content expectations in our Social Studies standards?
A: Legislation states that a personal economics course that includes a Financial Literacy component also cover the Economic standards. There is little change except to increase emphasis on Personal Economics. The current content expectations for Economics include E4 Personal Finance which has 6 content expectations on Personal Economics.

Q: Can we replace a Economics course with a "Personal Finance" or "Personal Economics" class?
A: Legislation requires districts to provide students with opportunities to learn all the Social Studies content expectations, including those addressing economics, regardless of course names. Districts can develop personal finance or personal economic courses that meet their students' learning needs that do not include the Economic content expectations as long as students have opportunities to learn the economic content elsewhere.

Q: Recent legislation requires "that the high school social studies content standards developed by the Michigan Department of Education include the content covered by the federal naturalization test." What do we need to do at the local level to make sure this content is addressed?
A: MDE completed a crosswalk of the 100 Citizenship questions and the Social Studies Content Expectations. 79 of the citizenship questions are already included in the Social Studies Content Expectations. The other 21 questions are either rote memorization, have different answers in different parts of the state, or change over time. Schools and teachers addressing the Social Studies Content Expectations with appropriate detail will address all content on the Citizenship test.

Q: Recent legislation requires "that Michigan's social studies curriculum and statewide assessment program include instruction and testing about genocides, including the Holocaust." What changes in the Social Studies Content Expectations will MDE make to address this concern?
A: Michigan's current Social Studies Content Expectations already include the Hololcaust, "the genocides of Armenians, Romas (Gypsies), and Jews, and the mass exterminations of Ukrainians and Chinese," and "-causes of and responses to ethnic cleansing/genocide/mass extermination (e.g., Darfur, Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia)." Schools and teachers addressing the Social Studies Content Expectations with appropriate detail will address content on the genocides including the Holocaust.

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CTE Substitutions

There are several different options (both with and without a personal curriculum) that allow the exchange of successful completion of an MDE-approved CTE program for various MMC credits. The following two items clarify exactly what this means and that completion of a single CTE course sequence can substitute for UP TO THREE MMC COURSES.

Q: What is a "Department-approved formal Career and Technical Education (CTE) program"?
A: This is defined in the Michigan Administrative Code. According to R 395.241, Rule 11, a "Department-approved formal CTE program or curriculum" consists of:

  • A coherent sequence of courses so that students gain academic, technical, and work behavior skills.
  • Instruction that includes classroom, laboratory, work based learning, and leadership opportunities.
  • Instruction that is supervised, directed, or coordinated by an appropriately certificated CTE teacher.
  • Consists of standards approved by the State Board (R395.243, Rule 13).
  • Must receive approval from MDE/OCTE through an application process (R 395.244, Rule 14).

According to R 395.243, Rule 13 "Successful Completion" means

  • Complete coursework covering all state program standards, and/or
  • Take any required technical assessment.

For state and federal funding purposes, a new CTE instructional program must submit an application to operate which must be approved by the MDE CTE office. The number of courses covering the standards in a CTE program is determined by the district and submitted in its application. The district may design one or two year programs. Not all high school students in CTE instructional programs can complete the requirements for certificates. Some industry certificates/licensures can only be received once a student turns 18 years old or after they have completed additional postsecondary coursework.

Q: Which MMC credit requirements may be replaced with a CTE program?
A: The following credits may be replaced only with a Department-approved formal CTE program as defined in administrative code for students without a personal curriculum:

  • 1 credit of a world language [classes of 2016-2021 ONLY]; and/or
  • 1 Science credit. 

Completion of a Department approved formal CTE program may be used to replace one or both of these credits.

Through a personal curriculum, students have options for replacing one MMC credit in Social Studies, physical education/health, and/or visual, performing and applied arts with a Department-approved formal CTE program. More information is available on the Personal Curriculum webpage. One Department-approved formal CTE program may be used to replace up to three of these credits.

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