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Nevada adopts new high school diploma requirements

Updated April 26, 2018 - 4:10 pm

Following four years of work and lengthy discussion on the need for better-prepared high school graduates, the State Board of Education adopted new criteria for a standard high school diploma on Thursday.

The requirements were increased from 22.5 credits to 23, adding two credits to demonstrate college or career readiness while reducing elective courses from 7.5 to 6 credits.

The standard diploma fulfills the most basic level of graduation requirements — students also can earn diplomas with more stringent requirements, such as advanced diplomas or college- and career-ready diplomas.

The changes will take effect beginning with Nevada’s class of 2022, or next year’s freshmen.

The two new college and career-ready “flex credits” can include a fourth year of math at an Algebra II level or higher, a third year of social studies, a third year of science, or a Level II or III course in a career-technical program.

The change in the diploma reflects a change in need — board Vice President Mark Newburn noted that far fewer jobs require only a high school diploma or less today than was the case in the 1970s.

But Newburn said making the change was a painful process since the standard diploma covers a range of students, from those who want to go to college to those interested in immediately launching a career after graduation.

“Attempting to change this measure sends earthquakes through the system,” he said. “And there were many times where I was convinced that it was actually politically impossible to change the standard diploma.”

The changes are also an attempt to solve the issue of graduating students who are unprepared for college — state data from 2016 shows that roughly 45 percent of Nevada high school graduates who enrolled at a state higher education institution ended up taking remedial courses.

“The remediation problem in Nevada is basically a standard diploma problem,” Newburn said.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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