MILLEDGEVILLE — The number of credits required for a Baldwin High School diploma will be lowered beginning with the Class of 2014.
The Baldwin County school board recently approved a plan to reduce the number of units needed for a diploma at Baldwin High School. The move is geared toward boosting the local graduation rate and helping students graduate on time.
The number remains in line with state requirements and more closely aligns with other surrounding school systems.
“We haven’t lowered the standards; we’re still at the highest level we can be at. We’re trying to make sure our students achieve to their highest potential and graduate on time by staying within the guidelines that the state has mandated; not what Baldwin High School has mandated,” said Dr. Jessica Swain, BHS principal. “We have to be more savvy with what we’re doing. Our objective is to give our students opportunities to graduate in their fourth year by meeting all of the specific requirements.”
The Georgia Department of Education requires students to earn a minimum of 23 course credits in order to graduate. The Baldwin County Board of Education unanimously approved the school’s proposal to lower the number of credits needed to graduate from 28 credits to the state’s minimum during the September school board meeting.
“I think it makes it much easier for seniors to graduate on time. They won’t be up against as much pressure when it was 28 units compared to the 23 units now. Overall it will improve our graduation rate, and I think that was the way to go,” said Dr. Gloria Wicker, District 1 school board member. “Children will still have to pass required state courses in order to receive their diploma. I’m very pleased with us doing this and wish we did this even sooner.”
By requiring BHS students to complete requirements exceeding the state’s mandate, students who may fail a class or two can lose hope of graduating.
“We were hurting ourselves by offering five credits more than the state. We’re not cutting any state mandated course work,” said Dr. Jeremy Dockery, BHS assistant principal. “With reducing the number of credits, it allows students to stumble without falling and still graduate on time.”
Students can still earn a maximum of 32 course credits, or eight credits per school year. In order to graduate starting this school year, students must earn a minimum of 23 credits specifically outlined by the state’s requirement and participate in any required state testing.
“One major misconception is that students will graduate early. Students still have to attend a minimum of eight semesters. We encourage those students who exceed to explore dual enrollment options, work-based learning options and earning multiple CTAE pathways,” Dockery said. “With Baldwin County, we require four units of social studies and the state requires three. The state recognizes civics, government and economics as half units, and we consider it whole units.”
Based on a survey of high school diploma requirements from surrounding school systems, Hancock County requires students to complete 23 units for graduation, while Johnson County requires 24 units, Jones County with 23 units, Washington County with 24 units, and Wilkinson County with 28 units. Putnam County reduced credits needed from 26 to 23 this school year.
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