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Awarding of Diplomas

Students shall satisfy all graduation requirements prior to the graduation ceremony in order to be eligible to participate unless otherwise noted in this directive.

Special Education students shall receive a New Mexico Diploma of Excellence upon satisfactory completion of the program of study (standard, career readiness, or ability) defined in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). The Board of Education shall receive notification of students (only by student identification numbers) who have earned diplomas on a career readiness or ability program of study.

Eligible students shall receive a New Mexico Diploma of Excellence if they have successfully demonstrated competence as required by the Public Education Department. Students shall receive a certificate of completion if they do not successfully demonstrate competence as required by the Public Education Department but have completed all other graduation requirements.

A senior transfer student shall be eligible for a diploma from an Albuquerque Public Schools high school after satisfactorily completing at least one (1) semester as a full-time student in an Albuquerque Public Schools high school and satisfying the graduation requirements. Normally, senior transfer students who do not qualify shall have their credits returned to their prior high school for the awarding of a diploma. Such students may participate in the local graduation ceremony. Special cases may be referred to the superintendent, who may authorize the issuance of a diploma.

Students who wish to study abroad in their senior year shall be required to have:

  • completed U.S. history and government credit requirements; and
  • have a plan of study approved by the principal and filed with the registrar of their school.

A diploma shall be granted to a student who completes all graduation requirements abroad.

Rank in Class

When ranking all seniors in their class, each high school shall:

  1. Establish each student’s initial eligibility for being included in the class ranking by determining that the student
    has been enrolled in an Albuquerque Public Schools high school for two (2) consecutive semesters (excluding summer sessions).
  2. Calculate the grade point average (GPA) and rank for each eligible student at the end of the sixth, seventh and eighth semesters.
  3. Include December graduates in the final semester class ranking.

Graduation Requirements

Twenty-five (25) credits are required for graduation. The credits will be distributed as follows:

Minimum Requirements

English: 4.0 credits

Mathematics: 4.0 credits

Social Studies: 3.5 credits

  • U.S History and Geography (1.0)
  • World History and Geography (1.0)
  • Government (0.5)
  • Economics (0.5)
  • New Mexico History (0.5)

Science: 3.0 credits
*All credits must have a laboratory component.

Physical Education: 1.0 credit

Health: 0.5 credit

Electives:  8.0 credits

Career or Workplace Readiness or Language other than English: 1.0

*These courses may be courses taken as electives that satisfy the elective credit requirement in addition to this requirement.

*At least one credit taken by a student must be Honors, Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment or Distance Learning.  These courses may be courses taken to satisfy any of the other credit requirements in addition to this requirement.

Total: 25 credits

New Mexico Competency Requirements

Students are required to demonstrate competency as required by the Public Education Department.  There are many ways to demonstrate competency, primarily through standardized assessments.  For an accurate listing of ways students may demonstrate competency, please refer to the Public Education Department.

Waivers of Requirements

All students, except those graduating under a Special Education Individualized Education Plan which specifies an alternative graduation plan, shall be required to earn twenty-five (25) credits to graduate. Individuals who request permission to substitute another course for a graduation requirement shall follow procedures according to the required courses they wish to waive.

Physical Education

  • Medical - The principal of a school may excuse a student from physical education on a year-to-year basis if the student presents a physician’s recommendation that the student should not be enrolled in a physical education course. A final waiver of the graduation requirement may only be granted by the Secretary of Public Education. (See Exemptions from Health or Physical Education Curriculum directive.)
  • Religious - The Secretary of Public Education may waive the physical education graduation requirement upon a written request from a parent stating that the course requirements violate religious beliefs and a statement from the school that no modification the school can make in the student’s program can overcome the parents’ objections.
  • Requests to waive the physical education requirement shall be submitted to the superintendent, or his/her designee, no later than the first semester of the student’s senior year.  The superintendent, or his/her designee, shall request the exemption from the Secretary of Public Education.


  • A parent who requests alternative assignments or home instruction for a portion of the health course may work out a satisfactory plan of instruction and evaluation with the teacher and principal of the school. The student shall receive credit for the course and needs no waiver. (See Exemptions from Health or Physical Education Curriculum directive.)
  • The superintendent may waive the health requirement if the student demonstrates achievement of the state health competencies through home or other instruction.
  • A student whose parent requests a waiver of the health requirement and no demonstration that state health competencies have been achieved may request a waiver from the state health competencies from the Secretary of Public Education.

Other State Mandated Courses

Other course requirements may be waived only as follows:

  • The school and/or parent shall submit a rationale to the principal showing how state competencies in the subject area will be met or why not meeting them is in the best interest of the student. The school principal may recommend approval or disapproval of the request.
  • Letters of request approved by the school principal shall be sent to the superintendent, or his/her designee, who shall request the waiver from the Secretary of Public Education.

Administrative Position: Chief Academic Officer/Associate Superintendent for Secondary

Department Director: School Principal/Executive Director of Instruction and Curriculum

Legal Cross Ref.:

  • §22-13-1.1 NMSA 1978
  • NMAC 6.29.1

Board Policy Cross Ref.:

  • IH6 - Graduation

NSBA/NEPN Classification:  IKF

Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: May 1997
Revised: May 2001
Revised: March 2003
Reviewed: August 13, 2014
Revised: August 15, 2014