Steamboat committee proposes new graduation requirements
October 26, 2010
If you go
What: Presentation of proposed changes to the Steamboat Springs School District’s graduation requirements
When: 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Steamboat Springs High School commons area
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs High School students would have to complete two more credits in their four years in school under new graduation requirements being proposed to the School Board. The change would increase the number of credits from 23 to 25.
Marty Lamansky, assistant principal at Steamboat Springs High School, said the increase doesn't mean more students won't graduate. He said that an average of the last three graduating classes revealed that 84 percent of students earned at least 25 credits.
Lamansky said a curriculum committee that has worked since March 2009 to review the district's graduation requirements doesn't think that's an unrealistic bar for students to reach.
"I feel like we've got something that provides a good balance for what's achievable for all students to prepare them for what they'll encounter after high school," he said.
Lamansky has presented the proposed changes to faculty and staff at each school and parent groups at the high school and middle school. He also will present the proposal during a public meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the high school commons area. Those in attendance will be encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback.
If approved by the School Board in December, the new requirements would take effect next year for the Class of 2015.
The proposed changes include the addition of 0.5 credits in math, 0.5 credits of personal financial literacy and 1 credit of world languages. Also, the number of language arts credits would remain at 4, but 1 world literature credit requirement would be added.
Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said it's important that Steamboat regularly reviews its graduation requirements, something that hasn't been common in the past.
"I think graduation requirements should be consistently analyzed for any revision and change, just to keep them current," she said.
Lamansky said new legislation in 2008 required that school districts review their graduation requirements.
Senate Bill 212, Colorado's Achievement Plan for Kids, also required that the academic content standards — what students are taught — be revised. New standards were adopted in December 2009. And the legislation defined postsecondary and workforce readiness — what the state's students should learn and know by the time they graduate high school.
Lamansky said the proposed graduation requirements place an emphasis on 21st century education, hence the addition of personal financial literacy and world languages. He said in the past, only parts of the graduation requirements were revised and that hasn't happened for about 10 years. To his knowledge, Lamansky said a comprehensive revision of all graduation requirements hasn't been conducted.
The proposed changes are based on decisions made by the curriculum committee, which included Principal Kevin Taulman, a faculty member from each high school department, parents and students. Lamansky said he facilitates the committee but is a nonvoting member.
To make those decisions, Lamansky said a representative of each high school department presented the curriculum committee with the existing graduation requirement and what it should be. He also said the committee took information School Board members heard during community engagement efforts, which included an emphasis on personal finance.
And Lamansky said the committee also reviewed the requirements for other high schools in Routt County, on the Western Slope and along the Front Range. For example, he said Hayden, Soroco and Moffat County high schools all require 25 credits for graduation. He said the Gunnison Watershed School District requires 26 credits, while a number of Front Range schools require only 22.
Lamansky emphasized that the proposed graduation requirements were just the minimum. As he noted, a majority of students from the past three graduating classes exceeded 25 credits. He said less than 1 percent of those students didn't meet the current requirement of 23 credits.
The School Board will consider a first reading of the proposed requirements at its Nov. 1 meeting. At that time, Lamansky said board members would provide feedback that the curriculum committee could review before presenting the proposed changes for a second reading at the Dec. 13 meeting.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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