Minneapolis high schools may loosen their academic standards for competing in athletics and other inter-scholastic competitions.

The district officially has required a student to average at least a C in the previous quarter, but in practice has allowed students with a cumulative C average for their high school careers to compete.

Now a proposal before the school board would allow students who make at least a .1 improvement in their grade-point average in the previous term to compete, even if they are below a C or 2.0 average. The board will discuss the proposal Tuesday evening and is scheduled to vote on it on Dec. 18.

Nan Miller, who oversees policy revisions for the district, said she’s not aware from her research of another district in Minnesota that allows a growth standard for competing in such activities as athletics, debate and drama or music competitions.

The Minnesota State High School League, which oversees such competitions, merely sets a standard that a competing student be making progress toward graduation. Some set a grade-point standard while others require that a student not fail any classes, according to Dave Stead, the league’s executive director. But the league doesn’t keep track of those standards, he said.

The district’s current standard has been criticized by some coaches for denying a chance to compete some students whose studies are disrupted by factors such as homelessness, family conflict or babysitting siblings. Others say that athletics or other competitions keep students engaged in school.

“Student after study shows us how important student engagement in school activities is,” Miller said. The proposed standard may be found on the board's agenda.