LEWISTON — Under a plan presented to the School Committee on Monday, high school seniors could graduate with 18 credits, six fewer than the district requirement.

No credit would be issued for half-year classes that began in January, according to Principal Jake Langlais’ proposal.

He said snow days, February vacation and the “sudden stoppage” of classes in March did not give students enough class time to earn credits.

Grades for yearlong classes would be issued based on the first semester grade or on a grade-book calculation made by the teacher, whichever is higher.

“We will weigh the factors of reality and do what is right,” Langlais said. “We won’t punish kids. These are certainly unprecedented times.”

Public schools were closed March 16 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

They will remain closed until at least May 4, under Gov. Janet Mills’ order.

Even if schools open May 4, all students would not be able to earn the credits they need to graduate, Langlais said.

He said 240 of Lewiston High School seniors already have enough credits if the requirement is lowered to 18.

The plan eliminates one credit each for English, math, science, social studies, the arts and wellness (health and physical education).

The Maine Department of Education is requiring a minimum of 11 credits for seniors to graduate, including four English credits. Langlais’ plan includes three English credits.

It does not include the pass/fail option adopted by some high schools and colleges.

“(Grade-point average) is one reason I’m opposed to pass/fail,” he said. “Pass could be 100, fail could be 50. It can really start to skew grades and bring down the average.”

The 240 seniors who have enough credits would give the high school a 63% graduation rate, Superintendent Todd Finn said.

“That’s par for the course for the past nine years,” he said.

But that rate could be improved by helping the remaining 140 get over the hump.

“I see an opportunity here,” Finn said.

He asked Langlais for a breakdown of “how many are close, how many are kind of close, how many could be ready by August?”

The high school holds a second graduation in August for seniors who finish their coursework over the summer.

The committee asked Langlais to come back with answers to whether:

  • The district could require three English credits when the state is asking for four;
  • Half-credits could be awarded for full-year courses that were not completed; and
  • A matrix could be created to limit subjectivity in grading.

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