Alabama implements new graduation requirements for public school students

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 11:09 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Public school students seeking to graduate from high school in 2028 will have to complete one of several new requirements passed by the Alabama State Board of Education before receiving a diploma.

“This step is not about any more requirements. It’s about measuring what matters,” said Gov. Kay Ivey.

On Thursday, the board voted to implement the new graduation requirements, which will become effective for the 2023-2024 school year. The measure passed with a 5-2 vote. Members Jackie Zeigler and Stephanie Bell voted no.

“Why put that in a mandate, put it in the law, and confuse it with more workload on the guidance counselor?” said Bell.

“Everything I’m hearing about the 10 options, they’re being done,” said Zeigler. “And if not, by putting a mandate, who do we hurt, we usually hurt the ones that need more help, not more restrictions.”

According to the measure, all public school students shall demonstrate postsecondary education and workforce readiness by earning one or more of the following college or career readiness indicators before graduation:

  • Earning a benchmark score in any subject area on the ACT college entrance exam
  • Earning a qualifying score of three or higher on an advanced placement exam
  • Earning a qualifying score of four or higher on an international baccalaureate exam
  • Earning college credit while in high school
  • Earning a silver or gold level on the ACT Work Keys exam
  • Completing an in-school youth apprenticeship program
  • Earning a career technical industry credential listed on the compendium of valuable credentials of the Alabama Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways
  • Being accepted into the military before graduation
  • Attaining career and technical education completer status
  • Any additional college and career readiness indicator approved by the State Board of Education.

The goal is to ensure students are prepared for post-grad. But, Bell doesn’t think the state is financially ready to support districts that don’t have the resources to offer the requirements.

“You don’t put in place a policy where you don’t already have the support system to support that policy,” she said.

But State Superintendent Eric Mackey says the time frame will allow the state to get ready.

“This is the first step in really supporting high schools in CCR [College and Career Readiness], it’s not the last step. It’s the first step because we want to make sure every student has that opportunity,” said Mackey.

Except for diplomas issued under Special Education Services rules, the board says no student will receive a diploma without earning one or more of the college or career readiness indicators. However, any student not receiving a diploma pursuant to this section, who later becomes in compliance, may only receive a diploma if the remedy occurs within two years of their initial failure to graduate.

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