SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s lawmakers are looking for ways to improve education in the state. And to do that, they’re in part eyeing adjustments to the graduation requirements for high school

New Mexico’s graduation requirements have been modified over the years. But the last time graduation requirements were overhauled was over a decade ago, according to an analysis by the Legislative Executive Study Committee. Now, some legislators say it’s time for an update.

House Bill 126, sponsored by Rep. G. Andrés Romero (D-Abq.) and T. Ryan Lane (R-San Juan), would decrease the total amount of credits required to graduate as well as require new elective offerings. The bill, which has been in the works for some time, essentially changes the minimum, but students would be allowed to exceed the minimum.

“We are dropping the amount of electives for prospective high school graduates,” Romero explained to the Senate Education Committee on Monday, February 27. But “they’re embedded in each of these [English, math, science, and social studies] requirements.”

For example, the law currently requires 7.5 units of electives. House Bill 126 would only require four elective units. But students could still get exposure to elective-like subjects. For example, students could use a journalism course as an English class, Romero explained.

The bill would also remove the algebra II requirement and the requirement that students take a dual credit (i.e., college class), advanced placement (AP), or distance learning course. Also, the social studies requirement would be raised slightly.

Under the proposed new requirements, local school districts would also need to choose a couple of classes to set as requirements. In other words, each district and charter school would have some say in their own graduation requirements.

Bill co-sponsor Lane says that cutting down the number of required credits would put New Mexico in-line with other top-performing states. “What this actually does is it frees up our students to take a career pathway that is more relevant to them,” Lane added.

The idea has already passed the New Mexico House of Representatives. Now, it’s making progress through Senate committees.

Several people spoke in opposition of the bill during Monday’s committee hearing. Some expressed concern that the bill could leave students without proper education on how to handle finances. Others spoke in favor of the bill, noting that the bill would let students better focus on the career paths that they’re interested in.

Ultimately, the Senate Education Committee voted Monday to move the bill forward. Sen. Gay G. Kernan (R-Chaves, Eddy & Lea) predicted that the bill would keep seeing support as it makes its way through Senate committees, but urged caution, noting that there’s a balance between requirements that are too strict and those that are too loose.