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Some NC School Districts Are Pushing Back On Lower Graduation Requirements Pushed By Republicans In The Legislature 

Source: News & Observer

Last week, the State Board of Education passed new policies that are set to go into effect for the upcoming school year. Under the new state budget, school districts are required to offer a sequence of courses that would allow high school students to graduate in three years instead of the traditional four years.

However, the same measure prohibited local school boards from requiring more courses than what the State Board of Education requires for graduation, and it exempted charter schools from having to offer the three-year graduation option, according to The News & Observer

Last Thursday’s vote was in response to the state budget’s new measure.

“This does eliminate for the ‘24-25 school year the rights of local boards of education to exceed the State Board of Education’s minimum requirements as it is currently in legislation, as well as permit students to graduate early,” Snea Shah-Coltrane, director of advanced learning and gifted education at the state Department of Public Instruction, told The News & Observer. “For the time being, we feel this is responsive to the legislation and as reasonable as we can be.”

The early graduation measure was spearheaded by Sen. Michael Lee, a New Hanover County Republican, who promoted the measure due to his son having to graduate in three-and-a-half years instead of three years due to local graduation requirements, according to The News & Observer.

National reports have warned about high school graduation requirements that fall short of preparing students for higher education due to lack of resources and rigorous courses. 

A report from the Center for American Progress found that most state high school graduation requirements are poorly designed; leaving students in a “preparation gap,” where they don’t qualify for admission to public universities.

“Without sufficient resources to ensure that all students can meet rigorous coursework requirements, problems such as tracking students into less rigorous courses and using nefarious practices to get students across the graduation finish line will persist,” the report states. 

The News & Observer reports that state board members are hoping to persuade lawmakers to amend the law before the end of the current school year.

Many school board members want local school districts to have the flexibility in keeping their existing graduation requirements while offering the lowered three-year graduation option.


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