New Mexico’s high school juniors would be required to apply to at least one college or show they have committed to other post-high school plans as part of a new high school graduation requirement being pushed by two state lawmakers.
The proposal is scheduled for its first legislative hearing on Thursday. If it eventually becomes law, New Mexico would be the first state to require post-high school plans of students, said Jennifer Zinth, who is the director of high school and STEM research at the Education Commission of the States, a Denver-based group that tracks education policy.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Nate Gentry, a Republican, and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, a Democrat, would make it mandatory for public school juniors to apply to at least one two- or four-year college. Exceptions would be made for students who can prove they have committed to military service, a vocational program, or work upon graduation in an apprenticeship or internship. Parents and school guidance counselors would have to approve of the students’ plans.
The measure was drafted with the aim of reversing declines in college enrollment across the state, which fell nearly 14% from 155,065 enrolled students in 2010 to 133,830 in 2016.