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New Graduation Requirement in New Mexico? College Application or Training

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A bill that's been introduced in New Mexico would add a new graduation requirement for high school students: They'd have to show proof that they've applied to at least one college or trade school, or signed up for an internship, apprenticeship or military service.

If approved, the new requirement would echo moves in some school districts that are designed to ensure high school students have a post-graduation plan that includes higher education, work or military service.

Nate Gentry, the Republican lawmaker who introduced the legislation in New Mexico, said he liked the results that a district in San Marcos, Texas, got when it started mandating a post-graduation plan for students. That district saw an 11 percentage-point increase in the numbers of students enrolling in college, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Chicago drew a lot of attention earlier this year when that district decided to require students to have a post-graduation plans. In order to get their diplomas, Chicago students have to show written proof that they've been accepted to a college or university, gotten a job, signed up for military service, or will participate in a gap-year program. The new requirement begins with the class of 2020.

New Mexico's proposed legislation would take effect with 11th grade students in 2018-19. Students could fulfill the requirement by applying to a college, university, or a training program, or showing they've committed to an internship or apprenticeship, or military service. They must make those moves before graduation in order to get a diploma.

The bill doesn't address one particular barrier to college: application fees. Gentry told the Journal that he would look into the possibility of waiving application fees at some in-state colleges.

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