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School board may increase graduation requirements

Students graduating in 2010 may have to take a few more classes to earn their diploma at South Whidbey High School.

A proposal to increase graduation requirements at the high school will be considered by the South Whidbey Board of Education this summer.

Supporters say the plan will go hand in hand with changes in the state’s graduation requirements, though it will ask more of students than the state’s minimum requirements.

If adopted, freshmen at South Whidbey this fall will need to add an additional credit to their total by the time they graduate in 2010.

South Whidbey High School already requires more credits for graduation than the state standard. South Whidbey High School requires 10 more credits, or 29 total, instead of the 19 credits required by the state to earn a diploma.

But the new proposal would take it a step further. It would take three credits from students’ elective courses and shift those to academic and technology classes.

The draft proposal would increase the overall credits from 29 to 30, including the addition of one more credit in mathematics, science, technology and art. Required electives credits would drop from 12 to nine.

Supporters say the increase would improve student achievement, exceed state requirements, prepare students for a technical society and support statewide education reform.

Mike Johnson, principal of the high school, recently presented the proposal to school board members. Johnson said the changes will give students a solid set of skills when they leave high school.

“By raising graduation requirements at South Whidbey High School, our graduates will be better prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s society,” Johnson said.

Currently, technology credits are not required by the high school or the state.

“The proposal to require students to earn at least one credit in technology is essential in today’s world,” said Dennis Hunter, teacher in the career and technology center at the high school.

Superintendent Bob Brown said the impact of the proposal on the district and its employees will need to be considered.

“There are still questions to be answered,” he said. “For one thing, we need to know what the financial impact of the proposal is,” Brown said.

The proposal is being recommended by the School Improvement Team and the high school site council. It is also supported by high school staff.

Students graduating in coming years will face other changes,

as well.

The state is also ramping up its requirements for a high school diploma. Beginning with the class of 2008, students will be required to complete a culminating project, a “high school and beyond plan,” and earn a certificate of academic achievement by meeting standards in the WASL reading, writing and math tests.

Johnson said these state-mandated requirements are focused primarily on students’ applied learning skills.

“For students to succeed in life both professionally and personally, they must be able to think critically and creatively; apply their knowledge, and be able to problem solve effectively,”

said Johnson.

While the proposal raises the bar for South Whidbey High School students, seniors graduating from Bayview School will still need to earn only 19 credits.

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