Grad requirements toughen | SteamboatToday.com

Grad requirements toughen

South Routt district revises rules on math, science, English

Brent Boyer

More lessons in math, science and English are in store for South Routt School District students under revised graduation requirements approved by the School Board last week.

The revised requirements are more rigorous than what previously was required to earn a general diploma and are intended to coordinate with admission standards that will go into effect in 2008 for Colorado’s public four-year colleges and universities, Soroco High School Principal James Chamberlin said.

“I think we all felt our requirements weren’t high enough,” Chamberlin said. “We weren’t preparing them for future choices.”

The new requirements, which go into effect immediately for the class of 2007 but won’t affect students graduating in 2006 or earlier, were approved about six months after the Colorado Commission on Higher Education approved new precollegiate admission standards.

The CCHE standards go into effect in 2008 and specify what credits Colorado high school students must complete to qualify for admission to four-year public colleges and universities in the state. Schools that will expect applicants to have completed the admission standards include the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, Adams State College, Mesa State College and the University of Northern Colorado, among others.

State community colleges won’t require students to meet the CCHE standards.

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Chamberlin said South Routt’s new requirements will better prepare students for whatever they choose to do after high school, regardless of whether those plans include post-secondary education.

“We believe raising expectations for all students for graduation is going to better prepare them for the future,” Chamberlin said. “We found Soroco’s requirements were below average for schools in our area.”

The High School Accountability Committee, a group composed of parents, teachers and students, developed and proposed the new requirements. The group of about 17 looked at the new CCHE standards as well as the graduation requirements for 15 regional high schools, Chamberlin said.

“The committee used quite a bit of data to reach its decision,” he said.

The new requirements mandate students complete four credits of English courses, three credits each of social studies, math and science courses, one credit in computer-related courses, a half-credit in speech, one-and-a-half credits in physical education and a half-credit in health.

The 16.5 required-course credits represent three more than what’s required of students under the existing general-diploma requirements. Students also must earn 25 credits throughout their high school career, one more than the 24 credits currently required.

The district’s college preparatory diploma, intended for students who want to better prepare themselves for a four-year college education, will be eliminated for all graduating classes beginning with the year 2007. The requirements for the district’s college preparatory diploma are similar to the new graduation requirements except that two foreign language credits and a fourth science credit have been excluded.

Mary Ann Means, the parent of a Soroco senior, is a member of the High School Accountability Committee. Means said the new requirements will help district students.

“As a parent, I think a lot of times if you expect more, you get more,” she said. “I think it’s a good move for our high school and a good move for our kids.”

The new requirements will require students and parents to stay on top of course schedules to make sure all needs are met before graduation, Means said.

— To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com