Highest Ranking Graduate - Awards

* 2014 award documents are currently ready.  An email with this link has been sent to your superintendent, or in the case of private schools the contact person listed on the TEPSAC website.

You will be able to print the Certificate and Declaration document from your own computer.  Also, you will need to submit the Declaration document to TEA.  We will be able to verify a student as the Highest Ranking Graduate only if you submit the Declaration document form back to TEA.  The student will be delivering the Declaration document to the college/university of their choice, because TEA has no way of knowing which institution a student will be attending.  TEA only serves to verify a student's receipt of the award.  Please read the "Letter to the Administrator" from the bullet point below before issuing the Certificate and Declaration Document.


Highest Ranking Graduate Certificate

  1. Letter to Administrator

  3. Print the Highest Ranking Graduate Certificate Instructions, this is for the student only.

  5. Print and Submit the Declaration Document Instructions, a hard copy for the student and submission back to TEA.

  7. Highest Ranking Graduate FAQ

Texas Education Agency
Federal & State Education Policy
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701

1. Letter to Administrator

The Texas Education Agency allows each public and accredited non-public high school in Texas one "Honor Graduate Certificate."  This Certificate shall be presented to the highest ranking graduate in the senior class.  Under no circumstances should a student ranked lower than "highest" be awarded this honor.  The highest ranking graduate should receive a Certificate and a declaration document authorizing the president of any state-supported college or university to provide a waiver for tuition as specified in the law (Texas Education Code, §54.301).  Some non-state-supported colleges and universities may also recognize this award and provide the tuition waiver.  Students should present the declaration document to the college or university upon admission and retain the certificate for personal use.

Determination of which student is named "highest ranking graduate" at each high school is a decision which rests strictly with the local school district.  Local school boards should adopt and adhere to a policy that outlines the criteria and the method by which a student is selected as the highest ranking graduate.  State law contains no provision that designates the Commissioner of Education or the Texas Education Agency as the decision-making authority in this area.

Each high school may award only one student except in the case of a tie as specified in the Attorney General's opinion below:

An institution of higher education is authorized to issue scholarships to more than one person in any case in which the relevant school district certifies a tie for the title of "highest ranking graduate," pursuant to Section 54.201 of the Texas Education Code, (TEC).  Op. Atty. Gen. 19892-No. MW-529.  Please note that TEC Section 54.201 has been re-designated 54.301 by the 82nd Legislature. 

Although this opinion authorizes the issuance of more than one certificate in the event of a tie for "highest ranking graduate," the criteria for identifying such students must be stringently applied.  It is the responsibility of the district to establish a selection process that will result in the identification of the single "highest ranking graduate."  In rare cases in which more than one student meets the district's criteria for selection, two certificates may be issued; however, in no event will more than two certificates be issued for one high school.


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2. Print the Highest Ranking Graduate Certificate Instructions

The Highest Ranking Graduate Certificate (PDF,348KB)  is a form filled PDF for the 2013-2014 school year for the student only. Do not send this document back to TEA.  You will need to type in the name of the student and high school.  We suggest you use a nice stock paper for the certificate.  The principal and superintendent will need to sign the certificate, once it has been printed.  The student will need the Declaration document on step 3 too.

Note: Make sure you have the latest free version of the Adobe Reader, this will be required when you submit the declaration form back to TEA in the next step.

Get the free Adobe Reader from: http://www.adobe.com/go/reader

If you continue to have problems with the PDF, email TEA or call 512/936-6060 and ask for Highest Ranking Graduate technical support.


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3. Print and Submit the Declaration Document Instructions

The student will need to present this document to the college admissions office.  Make sure the students gets a copy to present to the college admissions office they will be attending. You will need to type:

  • 9 digit PEIMS County-District-Campus number:  
  • Student's full name
  • High School
  • School District (only for Independent School Districts)
  • City
  • Zip Code
  • Authorized School Official

There is a [Print] button, so the student has a copy to present to their college admissions office,  an [Email to TEA] and a [Submit Form] button on the upper right hand window of the PDF document.  You must submit the form via the [Email to TEA] or [Submit Form] buttons in order for TEA to verify students for colleges.  If you need additional help, read the instructions on submitting the form back to TEA.

IMPORTANT: If you use the Google Chrome internet browser, you must read these special instructions on submitting the form to TEA or request the form by email.

ISD Declaration Document (PDF, 2.51MB) - Use this PDF form filled document if you are an Independent School District or a charter school within an ISD.

Private School Declaration Document (PDF, 2.36MB) - Use this PDF form filled document if you are a private school accredited by TEPSAC.

Charter School Declaration Document  (PDF, 1.65MB) - Use this PDF form filled document if you are charter school accredited by TEA.

Having Problems "submitting" the form back to TEA?

If you have problems "submitting" the form back to TEA, which is usually caused by a firewall on your computer, save the PDF file on your computer, attach the PDF document to an email and send it to hsep@tea.state.tx.us.  Do NOT scan the document as an attachment to an email.

Mac Users with no [Submit] button

Your Mac may open the document in Preview mode.  There will be no [Submit] button in the upper right corner.  You will need to close preview and open the document using Adobe Reader.  You may not have Adobe Reader on your computer, if so you need to download and install it.  Open the document using your Adobe Reader and you should be able to submit the form back to TEA.

Adobe Reader Information

Make sure you have the latest free version of the Adobe Reader, you will need version 9.0 or later to submit the declaration form back to TEA!  You can verify your version by opening your Adobe Reader and clicking the Help menu and going to About Adobe ....  You may need to contact your technical support staff in order to download the new Adobe Reader on your computer.

Get the free Adobe Reader!

If you continue to have problems with the PDF after updating, email TEA or call 512/936-6060 and ask for Highest Ranking Graduate technical support.


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Page last modified on 7/21/2014 02:28:51 PM.