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Incoming Oxford High School freshmen to have new diploma endorsement options

Starting in the fall, incoming Oxford High School freshmen will have new diploma options that will give students the opportunity to earn an endorsement with their diploma and provide students with disabilities an opportunity to earn a traditional degree.

The Mississippi Department of Education approved the new options in September. Last week, at the Oxford School District Board of Trustees regular meeting, the first reading of the changes was held. The board will hold a second reading and vote at its April board meeting after gaining comments from OHS faculty and staff.

The new diploma options were approved to help increase college and career opportunities for students, according to MDE. The new law also changes graduation requirements, including eliminating the Mississippi Occupational Diploma option for students with disabilities.

The new options include a traditional diploma for all students and an alternate diploma option for students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities that is not recognized by post-secondary schools that require a high school diploma. However, the alternate diploma certifies that the student has completed a course of study aligned to academic standards.

However, now students will also have the opportunity to earn endorsements on their diploma which include a Career and Technical Education endorsement, an academic endorsement or a distinguished academic endorsement.

Students can earn more than one endorsement.

The traditional diploma will require all students graduating from Mississippi high schools to have the same requirements and to earn 24 Carnegie units. Some changes to the requirements include removing World Geography, three units in science instead of four; three and a half units in social studies instead of four; and participating in one of three required electives that include, ROTC, AVID or a new Leadership Class.

After meeting the traditional diploma requirements, students can take additional CTE coursework to meet the requirements for the CTE endorsement or advanced, college-preparation coursework to earn an academic or distinguished academic endorsement. The CTE and academic endorsements require students to earn 26 Carnegie Units. Students must earn 28 Carnegie Units to qualify for the distinguished academic endorsement.

Also, the distinguished academic endorsement requires students to meet national college and career benchmarks above just earning credits.

OHS Principal and incoming assistant superintendent Bradley Roberson said students will choose which endorsement option they will pursue at the start of their freshman year; however, the student can change endorsement options as they advance in school with a parent’s permission.