Thursday, March 5, 2015

Grandview Lowers Graduation Credit Requirement

by Mary Wilson

The Grandview School Board, at their meeting on Thursday, February 19, voted to approve a new graduation credit requirement. In 2001, the board approved raising the Grandview standard from 26 credits to 28.

“We are doing this in part of a review of all district areas to create better efficiency and look at things that have a financial impact on the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Ralph Teran. “Our current configuration, approved in 2001, was to go to the eight-block schedule and correspondingly increase the credits required to graduate.”

According to Teran, the eight-block schedule seemed to hit strides nationally in the 1990s. He added that block scheduling or a regular seven-period daily schedule seems to show no impact on student achievement.

“The block schedule costs more money,” said Teran. “It is more expensive to run the schedule that we have, and since there appears to be no correlation with student achievement. Sometimes more expensive things may be worth it, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to have block scheduling. It is a value judgment.”

Teran stated that the 28 credit requirement binds the school district to the block schedule, and if any other option is considered the requirement needs to be lowered. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Kenny Rodrequez provided the board with a snapshot of what other districts require for graduation credits, and whether or not they have block scheduling.

“As far as we’ve been able to find in our area, we are one of three districts in our area that require 28 credits,” said Rodrequez. “The other two are Grain Valley and Park Hill. Other than that, most other districts hover around 25 or 26.”

Rodrequez added that the move from 28 to 26 credit hours required could open the opportunity for students to take additional dual-credit courses, as well as provide an opportunity to ensure that more students graduate on time.

“This could provide more opportunities for remediation that maybe the 28 doesn’t provide us with,” said Rodrequez.

Lowering the credit requirement will reduce the amount of electives students are able to take over their high school career, and according to Rodrequez, will not reduce the rigor.

“We have, in my opinion, one of the most rigorous requirements in the area,” said Rodrequez. “We require four credits of math, which is an anomaly in most of the surrounding areas. There are very, very few districts that require that.”

Grandview students are specifically required to pass through Algebra II in order to graduate, and are also required to take chemistry. Rodrequez said the rigor will come from the courses required, not from the amount of credits the students take.

He added that Grandview will soon be able to support an online-learning requirement, where at least one course would have to be taken in a virtual environment. This would be implemented over a period of time, and would be separate from the required credits and separate from the daily courses.

Ultimately, the board approved unanimously to approve lowering the graduation credit requirements from 28 to 26, beginning with the class of 2016.

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