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.
New Standard Diploma requirements
— 1 credit in American government
— 1 credit in American history
— 1 credit in arts and humanities, Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (Level III or IV) or career and technical education
— 2 college and career ready “flex” credits (Level II or II course of study in any of the state’s approved career and technical education programs; fourth year of math in Algebra II level or higher; third year of social studies or third year of science)
— 4 credits in English
— 0.5 credit in health education
— 3 credits in math
— 2 credits in physical education
— 0.5 credit in use of computers
— 2 credits in science
— 6 credits in electives