Number of credits reduced to graduate from Southampton High School

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, August 11, 2010

COURTLAND—Southampton County School Board voted Monday to reduce the number of credits required to graduate from high school, putting Southampton High School in line with state standards.

SHS students will now be required to earn 20 graduation credits to receive a modified diploma, 22 credits for a standard diploma and 26 for an advanced diploma. The previous requirements were 28 credits for a modified or standard diploma, and 30 for an advanced one.

“In our effort to create a culture of success for each and every student, I feel these changes would give our students the same opportunities as other students and schools throughout the State of Virginia,” SHS Principal Allene Atkinson, an advocate for the changes, told the school board.

The change also puts SHS on the same level as other high schools in the region that use a block schedule.

Franklin, Windsor, Smithfield, Greensville, Brunswick, Bruton, Phoebus, Sussex and Surry high schools currently require 20 credits for a modified diploma. Most of those schools require 22 credits for a standard diploma, but Windsor and Smithfield require 23 and Surry 24. Most also require 24 credits for an advanced diploma, but Franklin, Bruton and Sussex require 26 and Surry 28.

Atkinson told the board that since the school’s accreditation status would be based this year in part on the graduation rate, the number of credits required to graduate should be aligned with state standards.

“With the obvious difference in the requirements on which our graduation rate will be measured, I bring to you for discussion the question of whether our extremely high number of credits required for graduation is still in the best interest of our students and our school,” Atkinson said.

Virginia currently requires 24 credits for an advanced diploma, and has delayed implementing a decision to raise the requirement to 26 credits until the 2011-2012 school year. The state required 22 credits for a standard diploma and 20 for a modified one.

Atkinson said SHS has had the higher requirements for more than 12 years, before the division was subject to SOL testing and AYP requirements.

The senior graduation rate for SHS was 98.8 percent for the 2007-2008 school year, 100 percent in 2008-2009 and 96.17 percent in 2009-2010. The school will be required to have at least an 85 percent graduation rate for the 2011-2012 school year in order to meet state accreditation standards.

“SHS will do all that is necessary to ensure that our students are successful,” Atkinson said. “As part of this process, we are examining our practices, policies and initiatives that either contribute to or hinder this objective.”