Board lowers some graduation requirements |

Board lowers some graduation requirements

by Linda Hiller, staff writer

Students in the classes of 2002 and 2003 will get a reprieve from some graduation requirements.

The school board unanimously agreed Tuesday to drop required test scores by three points.

“We have a legal obligation to look at test scores and determine if students have had the opportunity to meet the standards,” said Superintendent Pendery Clark.

“When you start a class that was in 10th grade last year, it’s not prudent on our part to expect them all to achieve every level.”

The three points could be added back on for the class of 2004.

n Need opportunity to learn. The first class expected to meet the more stringent graduation requirements will be this year’s juniors, the Class of 2002. They were freshmen when the plan was implemented, but Clark and others said that many of this class’s opportunities have not been universally available. The lower scores will allow for that shortcoming.

“We have to look at each year’s data,” Clark said. “If the students haven’t had the opportunities, it’s high stakes.”

Other graduation requirement modifications approved by the board included the technology category for performance assessment competencies. Students who have taken a technology class in grades 7-9 will pass this computer literacy requirement. Performance assessments are also waived, Clark said. Because the new requirements weren’t in place when students took these classes in middle school, records weren’t kept to verify their performance, so just taking the class counts as passing the requirement for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 classes.

The multi-media presentation requirement for classes of 2002 and 2003 is going to be met through the senior research paper requirement. This year’s freshmen, the class of 2004, will have to do the multi-media presentation to graduate, however.

“What we’re trying to do with these modifications is to not set in stone the competencies,” Clark said. “Every time something changes, it affects the teachers, too. We need to be flexible with this.”

n Exit data. Counselor Mike Caughlan presented data from exit reports filled out by students leaving the DCSD school system from high school. Currently, exit polls are not taken from those leaving elementary or middle school, he said.

Caughlan’s data showed that last year, 85 students left DHS to pursue an alternative diploma. Of that group, 13 left to be home schooled and 71 transferred from the day school to the evening program to work on their GED or adult diploma. Of the 85, 42 students, or almost half, were from the junior class. The dropout range at DHS is 3-6 percent, well within the national average. The vast majority of polled students said they valued having a high school diploma and would recommend to other students that they not drop out of school.

Caughlan said the low unemployment rate, with employers hiring students at $12-15 per hour for jobs not requiring a high school diploma, could contribute to the dropout rate.

The January school board meeting will be held at Kingsbury Middle School at Lake Tahoe on Jan. 9 at 3:30 p.m. A discussion of redistributing students at Zephyr Cove Elementary School and KMS and possible rezoning in the Carson Valley will be on the agenda.