graduation

A group of students at graduation.

(The Center Square) – Grand Rapids Public School (GRPS) Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to lower the number of credits required to graduate high school.

Citing learning loss from COVID and virtual learning, GRPS lowered the required credits for graduation from 22 to 18.

Previously, GRPS required 22 credits for high school seniors to graduate, but officials changed that rule for the second straight year.

MLive first reported the story.

GRPS Communications Director John Helmholdt said the move is only temporary.

“The State of Michigan requires a minimum of 18 credits to graduate from high school,” Helmholdt wrote in an email to The Center Square. “Up until COVID, Grand Rapids Public Schools has required 22 credits. Due to COVID related challenges with attendance, staffing, and more, we are temporarily reducing our graduation requirements to the state minimum of 18 credits.”

Those required 18 credits include four English credits, four math credits, three science credits, three social studies credits, one physical education/health credit, one arts credit, and two language credits.

Michigan Rising Action Director Eric Ventimiglia criticized the school for “watering down” graduation requirements.

“School Board officials should be identifying solutions to help students increase their educational achievement, not lowering the bar and graduating students who are unprepared,” Ventimiglia said in a statement. “The members of the Grand Rapids Board of Education are failing students.”

Statewide assessments in 2021, when many schools spent at least some time in virtual learning, showed declines in the number of students meeting or exceeding grade-level standards compared to 2019.

GRPS Trustee Katherine Downes Lewis said these high school seniors deserve a break to improve social and mental health. 

“I think that people who complain about that most have to spend some time with these kids, especially high school kids, who went to school one day in March, and that was it,” Lewis said. “They didn’t go back to school for a year and a half before they really saw their friends."

She added that high school during a pandemic is harder than normal. 

“I don't think that a lot of people really understand what it means to be in high school and have everything that we think of as high school – proms, homecomings, and even graduations – just snatched away from them,” she said.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.