NM officials give districts leeway on grad rules

November 16, 2013 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State education officials have agreed to let school districts develop [auth] their own high school graduation requirements after complaints that New Mexico’s changes might prevent thousands of students from graduating, at least for the current school year.

The Public Education Department announced the decision to allow districts to tweak state rules at a Legislative committee hearing Thursday.

The Santa Fe New Mexican ( ) reports the announcement came after superintendents complained about the implementation of a 2008 state law that mandates graduation standards.

State officials said they have been clarifying rules in the law requiring students to earn 24½ credits, pass all core courses and demonstrate competency in five key subjects before being allowed to graduate.

The 2008 law clearly states that students must work with advisers to plan a four-year course of study, meet all course requirements and pass exams such as the state’s Standards Based Assessment. But it is a complex list of alternative requirements that is causing problems.

Schools have been counting credits for “workforce readiness” assessments, community service or internships and after-school jobs. New state guidance tightened those rules, leaving many students approaching their final school years worried they might not graduate.

Thursday’s announcement will allow districts to set their own rules for those credits — for now.

Public Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera sent superintendents a memo Tuesday saying that, after this year, the department plans to change the rules on alternative requirements going forward. “Following this transition year,” she states, “PED intends to amend the rule to ensure a uniform and consistent expectation for all students graduating in 2015 and beyond.”

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