Slight credit reduction approved – along with lower GPA requirement – at N.S. schools

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The North Smithfield School Committee has granted final approval to a policy change for high school graduation that lowers the passing grade from 70 to 65, and reduces the number of required credits from 24 to 23.

The changes, first discussed by the committee in January, received initial approval at a meeting in February, but required a second reading. The new district policy was officially adopted at the school board’s meeting on Tuesday, March 23.

While presenting the issue at the start of the year,  Asst. Supt. and Curriculum Director Clare Arnold pointed to difficulties this year’s students have faced due to restrictions from COVID-19.

The change puts North Smithfield in line with other schools across Rhode Island, where 65 was already considered a passing grade.

A review of the policy, which can be read in full here, shows that there was also a small adjustment to the credit requirement for graduation, from 24 to 23. Students must now complete 2, rather than 2.5 physical education credits and 6.5, rather than 7 elective credits to be eligible for graduation.

While the move marks an official change to district policy, the committee is expected to revisit the issue for review in six months at the request of Chairman James Lombardi.

The board also approved the first reading of a change to the district’s Chromebook policy that dictates the devices are loaned to all students at North Smithfield schools, updated from previous language stating they were provided to high school and middle school students. The Chromebook initiative was expanded in 2016 with funding to include all students in grades 3 through 12, and was later extended to also include the town’s youngest students.

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