The Steamboat Springs School Board questioned on Monday whether the Senior Odyssey Program should be a graduation requirement.
The School Board ultimately agreed to put the issue on its June 20 agenda, and to continue to talk about all graduation requirements during the summer.
School Board member Jeff Troeger said he didn't question the value of the program, but he did question whether it should be a graduation requirement.
School Board President Paula Stephenson and member Pat Gleason agreed.
"To me, this program really should be something that is optional," Stephenson said.
Troeger said he thought that serious discussion about whether the program should be mandatory was needed sooner rather than later.
Superintendent Donna Howell said it would be difficult to change graduation requirements for next year at this point. Also, because this was the first year the program was a graduation requirement, she said it could be helpful to at least try out the requirement for a second year.
Seniors spend the first semester of the program in a class defining career goals and working on interview and resume-writing skills. In the second semester, they complete a senior project. The program was piloted for the previous three years.
Troeger said that if the program were required again next year, he would like to see some flexibility. For instance, students could have the option of taking college or AP courses, or other self-exploration classes.
Gleason agreed with the idea of having the option to opt out of the program. He said he knew about students who turned down opportunities to be part of exchange programs or who finished school elsewhere, in part because of the requirement. The program could lose value if students cannot opt out, he said.
In the past month, some parents and students have questioned whether the program should be required.
Several parents told the School Board in May they thought students should be able to choose whether to take the class. A recent article in Periscope, the high school's student newspaper, also questioned the worth of the program.
Surveys to get feedback on the program have been distributed, and students have been asked to fill out a survey online, Howell said.
Feedback should be collected and tabulated in time for the School Board's June 20 meeting, and revisions to the program can be made based on the feedback.
Troeger said he thought the survey should have included a question about whether the program should be a graduation requirement.
Howell said that the analyst helping with the survey said that such a question could be leading.
Troeger responded that he thinks the survey is leading because it suggests the program is valuable. Gleason agreed that the survey seemed to assume the program has value.
Gleason said he also was concerned that only the senior project part of the requirement was being evaluated through the survey. People were not asked to evaluate the first semester class.
"Here we had a wonderful opportunity to get some feedback, and on the first half of it, we didn't get it," Gleason said.
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