Many students get to high school and have very little information on what it takes to graduate on the distinguished plan. For students in the class of 2016 and 2017, the requirements are much more difficult than they will be for the next generations of students.

“The Distinguished Achievement Program (DAP) sets the guidelines for earning Texas’s most prestigious public school diploma,” Brian Armstrong wrote in an article on Thesis Magazine. “The Distinguished diploma goes above and beyond the Recommended Plan diploma and in theory should make your student stand out from other college applicants who have not completed as onerous of requirements.”

At Timber Creek students who graduate on the distinguished plan are also rewarded with a gold stole to wear at graduation.

Due to the fact that the state of Texas has changed the graduation plan for students who entered high school in 2014-2015 and from now on to the HBI plan, graduating distinguished will not be as hard. The new requirements for those students are that the student completes the curriculum for at least one endorsement and Algebra II.

The new requirements are a lot different compared to the one for the students who entered high school prior to 2014-2015. For current juniors and seniors, graduating distinguished requires a total of 26 credits plus “three years of the same foreign language and must attain four advanced measures in the following areas:
– Score three or above on an AP exam
– Original research/project of professional quality as judged by a panel of experts
-Score on the PSAT that qualifies a student for recognition as a Commended Scholar or Higher by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation; as part of the National Hispanic Scholar Program of the College Board; or as part of the National Achievement Scholarship Program for Outstanding Negro Students of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
– Grade A or B in a college course (including dual credit),” according to the Keller ISD Graduation Requirements page found in the counseling offices.

Though it may seem unfair to the current juniors and seniors that all their hard work will only result in a graduation stole that future students will be able to obtain more easily, let it be noted that in the next few years graduating distinguished may not be as admirable as it is now.