Graduation and Promotion Policies

  • All students must earn 110 academic credits in order to qualify for a diploma. Students must successfully complete the following distribution requirements:

    • 4 years of English
    • 4 years of Mathematics
    • 4 years of Social Studies (includes one (1) year of US History)
    • 4 years of Science (includes 1 each of Biology, Chemistry and Physics)
    • 3 years of a World Language (Students must either successfully complete the third year of study of
       the same language, of which two years are completed at Norwell High School,
       OR complete three years of study of a combination of languages).

    • 4 semesters of Unified Arts (Art, Music, Theater, or Applied Technology).

    • Students must take at least one (1) semester of an Art, Music, or Theater course. • Students need to complete PE/Health I and II and two (2) PE/Wellness electives before graduation. State law requires that students must participate in physical education during the school year.

    Norwell High School Learning Expectations Graduation Requirements:

    Students’ performance levels on the Norwell High School Learning Expectations are assessed each semester and reported on the semester report cards.

    In order to graduate, students must receive a performance level of Meets Expectations in English, mathematics, social studies and science. Students can earn their graduation status by meeting expectations during one semester in their junior year in English, mathematics, social studies and science. Students can earn their graduation status in social studies in the second semester of their sophomore or junior year once their research projects/papers are complete.

    Students can receive recognition of commitment to fulfill the Norwell High School Learning Expectations in art, foreign language, music, applied technology, and or theater by meeting expectations during a semester after their fourth semester of study within a specific subject.

    Students may substitute one of the recognition subjects for one of the four-year requirement courses only once. If they do so, they will not receive recognition in that subject.

    *Based upon their learning profile, students may apply for a waiver to a graduation requirement and may be waived from that requirement with the principal’s approval. Students must apply for said waiver and must provide documentation to support their request.


  • Norwell High School’s curriculum is designed to meet the state frameworks upon which the MCAS tests are based. Support services and tutorials are required for students who may be at-risk for passing these exams. In accordance with state law all Norwell High School students must meet the Competency Determination (CD) standard in order to receive a high school diploma.

    ● Students must earn a passing score on the MCAS tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, and one of the Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) tests (Biology, Chemistry, Introductory Physics, and Technology/Engineering) to meet their CD requirement.

    ● Because of the transition to the next-generation MCAS tests (MCAS/Nextgen/default.html), there are currently different CD requirements depending on the student’s original class, as shown in the table below. Requirements for the classes of 2022 – 2024 reflect an interim passing standard for ELA and Mathematics defining a level of achievement on the new tests that is similar to the standard on the legacy tests.



    Class of 2023-25

    Class of 2023-25


    OPTION 1

    OPTION 2


    Earn a score of 472 or higher

    Earn a score between 455 and 471 and

    Fulfill the requirements of an Educational Proficiency Plan


    Earn a score of 486 or higher 

    Earn a score between 469 and 485 and 

    Fulfill the requirements of an Educational Proficiency Plan


    Earn a score of 220 or higher 


  • Each Educational Proficiency Plan will include, at a minimum:

    • A review of the student's strengths and weaknesses, based on MCAS and other assessment results, coursework, grades, and teacher input;

    • The courses the student will be required to take and successfully complete in grades 11 and 12; and

    • A description of the assessments the school will administer on a regular basis to determine if the student is moving toward proficiency

Grade Point Averages

  • A student’s grade point average is used by colleges and universities as a relative measure of his or her academic strength and potential. The GPA is calculated by assigning a point value to those final grades earned in academic courses (English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, World Language, and AP Art) and averaging their sum total.

    The first calculated GPA includes final grades for freshman and sophomore year along with first semester junior year.

    Weighting Differential


    Letter Grade

    Numerical Grade




























































    59 or below





  • When in unique situations, a student is allowed to take a class for a grade of “Pass” or “Fail”, “Pass” work is equivalent to the work required to earn a grade of “C” in that class. For the purposes of GPA, the “Pass” will be figured in at the value of a “C” in that course

    N- no grade.

    Students absent for documented medical reasons and are unable to complete required course work will receive an N, no grade for the term. A student who receives 2 N’s may lose credit for the year. A meeting involving administration, parents, teachers and the student will be held to determine the academic outcome.

    Students who are tutored outside of school for extended periods of time will also receive an N grade. It is Norwell High School’s belief that students need to be in class to receive credit.

Directions for Course Selection

  • All students are required to carry a full course load (30 cr./year). Students should make seven or eight selections. Students should review graduation requirements prior to selecting courses. Note that some courses have limited enrollment or sequential restrictions. If applicable, course prerequisites are noted in the course descriptions. Courses designated with 2.5 credits are one semester courses.

    Students with Individual Education Programs (IEP’s) requiring direct service will have their schedules adjusted as needed. Schedule conflicts may prevent some students from obtaining all courses selected. Under-enrolled courses may be cancelled. Eleventh and twelfth grade students receive priority in scheduling.

    GRADE 8

    Students will be assigned to major subject courses according to course prerequisites and teacher recommendations.

    Course prerequisites:

    College Prep Level Class – successful completion of the preceding class in that subject area.

    Honors Level Class – A grade of B- or better in a preceding grade 8 Accelerated Class or a grade of A- or better in a preceding grade 8 Standard Level Class.

    Biology Level Placements – Teacher recommendation based upon a rubric and point assignment for three terms of grades. See World Language course descriptions for additional requirements for continuing in a sequential world language course study. Teachers will submit course recommendations into the Aspen portal. Instructions on this process will be mailed home, and also available on the website. Academic levels for which a prerequisite has been met can be changed by the student/parent. For desired changes for which a prerequisite is not met, refer to the waiver policy on the Norwell High School website.

    GRADES 9- 11

    Teachers will submit course recommendations into the Aspen portal. Instructions on this process will be available on the website.

    Should the student/parent disagree with a recommendation, the course can be changed if the course prerequisite has been met. For desired changes for which a prerequisite is not met, refer to the waiver policy on the Norwell High School website.

Important Guidelines for all Norwell High School Students

  • PREFACE: The offering of courses outlined in the Norwell High School Program of Studies is subject to:

    • School Committee Approval

    • Budget Decisions

    • Student Enrollment

    • Teacher Availability


    All students are required to have full academic schedules (a minimum of 30 credits).


    Prerequisites for grades 9, 10, and 11 will be based upon the average grade of terms 1, 2 and 3.

    Grade prerequisites for all honors and advanced placement classes are as follows:

    Honors: B- in a preceding honors course or B+ in a preceding college prep course.

    Advanced Placement: B+ in a preceding honors course, or A- in a preceding college prep course. Students who sign up for an AP course must turn in an AP agreement form signed by the student and parent.

    See World Language course descriptions for additional requirements for continuing in a sequential foreign language course of study.


    A course prerequisite may be waived with written permission of the Principal. To attain a waiver the student must complete a waiver form and write a personal narrative explaining why the waiver should be granted. All waiver requests must be turned in to the high school principal. Decisions granting waivers are based upon the student’s record and available space.


    Based upon their learning profile students may apply for a waiver to a graduation requirement and may be waived from that requirement with the principal’s approval. Students must apply for said waiver and must provide documentation to support their request.


    The Administration reserves the right to cancel courses based upon enrollment or staffing variables.


    Norwell High School does not calculate rank-in-class. 


    Students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses must take the college board AP exam in that course in order to receive “AP” credit on their transcripts. Students enrolled in AP courses who do not take the exam will receive “Honors” credit on their official school transcripts. Students will be required to pay exam fees by September 30th. Students who are enrolled in 4 or more AP courses may request an exam waiver for this requirement for their 4th course and beyond. 


    The master schedule of courses at Norwell High School is determined by students’ course requests. While the school does its best to accommodate course choices, not all student requests can be honored because of budget decisions, scheduling constraints, student enrollment, and teacher availability.

    While some course changes are unavoidable, the following framework has been established to ensure that only essential course/schedule changes are made:

    • Course/schedule changes will only be made in cases where the student requests a change in course level or to a new course. • Course/schedule changes will not be made to accommodate student requests for a specific teacher.

    • No course/schedule changes will be entertained during the first cycle (7 school days) of the school year.

    • Course/schedule changes may be proposed at the start of the second cycle (8th school day) of the school year.

    • Students who drop a course after the first interim report will receive a “W” (withdraw) on their transcript.

    Any request for a course/selection change may require a meeting of the student, parent, school counselor and teacher to discuss the potential change.


    All incomplete must be made up by the following term’s midterm. Extended incomplete grades require a written letter of waiver that is approved by the principal.


    Students who are absent 10 or more days in a semester will be denied semester credit for that course. The only absences excused will be those necessitated by school-sponsored field trips or for medical reasons documented by a medical professional. Missing more than 15 minutes from a class will be considered an unexcused absence from that class. In addition, juniors are granted a total of three (3) days and seniors are granted a total of five (5) days excused absences for college/career planning purposes. These absences will only be excused if the student presents documentation from the admissions office of the school that he or she visited. Parents and guardians are expected to inform the school of any and all of their child’s (children’s) absences.

    Students considering an Internship Program during term 4 of their senior year must not accrue more than five absences during the 3rd term, in order to maintain eligibility. 


    Credit for courses is awarded on a semester (half-year) basis. Any student who has 10 total absences during a semester will be denied the 2.5 credits for that course. Upon successful completion, year-long academic courses award 5 credits and semester-long courses award 2.5 credits. In keeping with the school’s commitment to due process, the following steps will be attempted before denying any student academic credit: • An attempt will be made to phone the parents/guardians of absent students every day. • After five (5) absences parents/guardians will be notified in writing of their child’s attendance status and its threat to academic credit. • After 10 absences from any class within a semester, a letter will be sent home which formally denies credit. The students and parent/guardian may appeal the credit denial to the Attendance Review Board. 


    Failure in any course will result in a denial of credit. In order to receive NHS credit for a failed course, a student must attend an approved summer school. In order to be eligible for a summer school course, the student must have attained a grade of at least 50% in the failed course. Students may not apply any more than 20 credits earned in certified outside programs (summer school, night school, etc.) toward the diploma. Transfer students are exempt from this as approved by the administration.


    The official transcript includes a list of subjects taken, final grades earned, and credits assigned for courses taken at Norwell High School. It also includes the student’s cumulative GPA, once it has been calculated. 


    Currently enrolled Massachusetts public high school juniors and seniors who are in good academic standing at their high school and/or who have been recommended by high school principals, guidance counselors and/or teachers, will be eligible for consideration to enroll full time or take individual courses at Massachusetts public institutions of higher education. Students participating in dual enrollment may earn credit (s) that meets requirements for high school graduation and higher education matriculation. Students must have attained a 3.0 GPA or better, in order to be eligible. Dual enrollment courses are included on student transcripts and carry AP weight in students’ GPA. Courses taken for enrichment are not included on the transcript or in the GPA.

    Norwell High School students wishing to participate in the Dual Enrollment Program must apply through the NHS Guidance Department and must have the approval of the principal. There is currently no state funding for dual enrollment coursework. Reduced tuition may be available. 


    Norwell High School students may take courses outside the high school curriculum, but these courses will not receive Norwell High School credit toward graduation requirements nor be calculated toward a student’s GPA or be listed on the transcript unless they are needed to meet graduation requirements. Courses required for graduation must be pre-approval of the Principal and cannot be taken in place of existing courses offered at Norwell High School. A transcript from the original institution associated with the course completed may be placed in the student’s folder and forwarded to colleges. Students interested in taking college courses to meet requirements for high school graduation as well as be included on student transcripts should reference the Dual Enrollment program.


    High Honors – A student must achieve no less than 5 A’s or A-‘s and no grade lower than a B-. Honor Roll – A student must achieve a B- or better in all courses receiving letter grades. 


    In the event that a student requests to take a course outside of the scope and sequence prescribed in the Program of Studies, the principal has the discretion to determine any conditions or provisions that will need to be met before approval is granted.

  • Graduation and Promotion Policies

  • Grade Point Average

  • MCAS

  • Directions for Course Selection

  • Important Guidelines for all Norwell High School Students