Members of the Class of 2021 at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School toss their caps into the air after commencement exercises at Gouin Field in Paris. Christina Sugars photo

PARIS — How many credits it takes for a student to graduate from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School is a topic that Maine School Administrative District 17 directors have occasionally approached for years.

Graduation requirement discussions have been revisited in recent months, along with this question: Are 24 class credits the right number?

The question was referred to the school board’s curriculum and policy committees for a thorough review.

After Monday night’s policy committee meeting, which included feedback and input on the issue from OHCHS Principal Paul Bickford, Committee Chair and Director Curtis Cole of Norway indicated that momentum is building to update senior graduation prerequisites and possibly trim the threshold from 24 to 21 credits.

The committee reviewed a marked-up draft that would revise Policy IKF Graduation Requirements. The goals for any eventual changes include aligning special education requirements more closely to how other programs are measured; adding flexibility to how students earn credits (for example: the number of science credits would remain at three and include a lab science but not dictate whole and partial credits be earned in biology, chemistry and physics); and updating the district’s definition of computer literacy, which was last written 13 years ago.

Among the questions that arose during Monday night’s meeting were how reading literacy instruction might be adjusted; ensuring that the focus of community service projects is on civic lessons more than hours logged; students graduating with Maine’s COVID disruption diploma, which requires 11 credits but will be eliminated by the end of the 2024-25 school year; identifying existing and potential gaps between SAD 17’s and the Maine state diploma, which stands at 16 credits and is largely utilized in homeschooling; and collaborating to share credits between OHCHS and Oxford Hills Tech School programs.


In comparing OHCHS’ graduation credits with diploma requirements at 19 other high schools and state programs, including nine of the state’s top ranked schools, Oxford Hills’ seniors require 24, tied with top ranked Belfast for the highest of all listed. Greeley High School in Cumberland, a top school, requires 18. Four, including top ranked Falmouth and Southern Aroostook in Dyer Brook, list 20 credits to graduate. Seven require between 21-22.5 credits, including top ranked Brunswick, Scarborough and Orono. Cape Elizabeth and Camden, both top schools, require 23 credits. (High school rankings in Maine were compiled by U.S. News & World Report.)

No adjustments were made to the draft Policy IKF Graduation Credits, and no action was taken Monday.

Those attending the meeting were Cole, Assistant Superintendent Steve Ciembroniewicz; School Board Chair Troy Ripley and Director Christie Wessels of Paris; Directors Nate Broyer and Shauna Broyer of Oxford; Director Donna Marshall of West Paris; Director Diana Olsen of Otisfield, who is also on the curriculum committee; and Curriculum Committee Chair and Director Mark Heidmann of Harrison. Directors Judy Green of Waterford and Gay DeHart of Oxford were absent Monday; they serve on the curriculum committee as well.

Along with the curriculum committee and OHCHS administrators, members of the policy committee will work to answer the questions raised, noting that the policy should not be revised until the Maine Board of Education has considered and settled on possible changes to state standards. The topic will be on the next policy committee meeting agenda, which is scheduled for Dec. 11 at 5 p.m.

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