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Reynolds HS mulls reduction in graduation requirement

Administrators at Reynolds High School are planning to reduce the number of classes students need to graduate by one class in order for struggling students to more easily make up failed credits.

“I think this is a good idea for us,” Reynolds High School principal Wade Bakley told the school board.

Currently Reynolds High School requires students to have 25 credits, or classes, to graduate.

The state requires 24 credits to graduate and other districts mandate a similar number of credits, the administrators told the board. Parkrose and Portland Public Schools require 24 credits. David Douglas and Gresham-Barlow require students to have 25 credits. Centennial requires 26.

“We have a finite number of rooms and staff. This would position us to let freshmen make up classes as soon as they are failing them,” Bakley said.

Academic failure is the primary reason students drop out of school, so it is key to make it easier for students to make up failed classes expediently. Reynolds High School graduated about 63 percent of its students in the 2014-15 school year, compared with 72 percent statewide.

The board asked the administrators to report to them on how the adjustment would change the number of graduates and to discuss timing for the change, said Andrea Watson, Reynolds communications coordinator.

Under the proposal, the number of elective credits required would be reduced. Reynolds students will still have to take 18 “core” classes over their four high school years. Core classes include language arts, math, science and foreign languages. The number of electives offered to students would not be reduced, Bakley said.

Reynolds High School students would still be able to earn an honors diploma if the change is made. An honors diploma requires 27 classes, including at least four advanced classes, and a 3.5 grade point average.

Bakley and assistant superintendent Frank Caropelo made the proposal to the Reynolds School Board at the December meeting. The board asked questions at a subsequent board workshop. The board likely will consider a more detailed proposal at the January 13 meeting.