Alvirne’s Required Graduation Credits Go to 23

March 20, 2015

by Len Lathrop

The school board vote has been taken.  Alvirne High School, for the first time in over 20 years, will be adjusting its graduation credit requirements.  School Principal Steve Beals, accompanied by District Director of Counseling Bill Hughen and Dean of Academics Sue Bureau were in front of the Hudson School Board during the Monday, March 16 meeting to seek approval to implement a 23-credit graduation requirement.

Beals explained that House Bill 533 had changed the math requirements to now require a fourth year of math to receive a State of New Hampshire diploma.  This, in conjunction with curriculum review and many new programs that have been going on, his leadership team is recommending an increase in graduation requirements to 23 credits.  To quote Beals, “a simple goal is for all students to have better access to our comprehensive high school offerings to develop the important 21st-century skills that we feel translate to success in higher education, career readiness and throughout their lives.” While academic requirements have been added in math science and social studies the graduation credit requirement has not changed with the modified block scheduling.  The high school leadership team believes it was time to look at how Alvirne High School aligns to other schools in the area.

Students need 20.5 credits for a Bronco diploma, while respective schools in the area are asking for more:  Pembroke Academy 23, Londonderry 24, also with 24 are White Mountains, Bow, Wilton, Bedford, Lin-Wood.

Beals outlined how this would affect the current student population.  There would be no change for anyone graduating in this year in 2015 or for the juniors graduating in 2016 as both would remain at status quo of 20.5 credit hours.  The current sophomores, 10th graders scheduled to graduate in 2017, would need 21.5 credit hours and current freshmen and incoming eighth graders, the classes of 2018 and 2019, would need 23 hours.

Set the bar high and students will raise themselves to the task is how Beals explained the new graduation requirements; he did point out, however, that 70 to 80 percent of students currently graduating have many more credits than required.  Beals explained that the outside support programs such as the new continuing education diploma programs in additional evening offerings allow us to be confident that we can raise the bar and still meet every student’s needs.

With very little discussion a motion was made by school board member Stacy Milboure and seconded by Patty Langlais to change the high school graduation requirement to 23 credits.  Some discussion ensued with school board member Ben Nadeau asking about stress on the school students.  Beals explained that once put into place this is a working plan where everybody is supported.  He commented that the new math tutoring program that started this year and many of the support systems are helping all students.  He also explained that they offer a five-year situation for students, and with continuing education programs and other opportunities, he felt that students would discover a way to find the correct path to new required credits whether through directed studies, support programs or VLACS (Virtual Learning Academy Charter Schools).

The school board vote was five in favor and zero against to allow the leadership team at the high school to continue to develop the new graduation credit requirement and to implement the phasing program that they had presented.