USD 489 BOE discusses graduation requirements


USD 489 Board of Education met on Monday and discussed graduation requirements beginning with students that are currently in seventh grade.

The Kansas State Department of Education recently released recommendations for changes, but Assistant Superintendent Shanna Dinkel emphasized there will still be discussion before anything is finalized. 

One recommendation was the introduction of “postsecondary assets.” These assets include two categories: Career and Real-World and Academic. Students would need to complete at least two assets from either of the categories to graduate. 

Some examples of Career and Real World assets include apprentice programs, 40 or more Community service hours, workplace learning, Seal of Biliteracy, involvement in two or more high school activities, JROTC, Eagle Scout and 90 percent attendance. 

Academic assets include attaining a 21 or higher on the ACT, nine or more college hours, state assessment scores meeting the college readiness standards, ASVAB per requirements of the military branch selected and completing the Board of Regents curriculum. 

“The task force felt like these were important enough to require and have engagement from families, students to be part of the high school career as they work towards that postsecondary success,” Dinkel said.

Dinkel said criteria would be drafted so students could propose different projects or ways of fulfilling those assets beyond the list provided by KSDE.

In terms of class requirements, instead of four units of English Language Arts, four units of Communications would be required, which would be broken up into 3.5 units of ELA (reading, writing, literature) and .5 units of Communications (speech, debate, public speaking, journalism).

No changes were proposed regarding the current three units of History and Government and one unit of Fine Arts.

Instead of three units of science and three units of math, seven credits of STEM will be required. In addition to the three units of math and science, a STEM elective will be added. STEM electives include computer science, advanced math, robotics, advanced technology and agriculture.

The current one unit of PE and six units of electives would be turned into six units of Employability and Life Skills. This would consist of half a credit of physical education, half a credit of health, half a credit of financial literacy and then 4.5 credits of electives based on each student’s individual plan of study. 

KSDE also asks districts to consider the Kansas Board of Regents’ recommendation for mandatory completion of the FAFSA before graduation. However, any student, family or school could opt out from a student completing the application.

“There’ll be some things to visit about, make some decisions, upgrades to our processes and some of the classifications we currently have,” Dinkel said.

Dinkel also noted the recommendations total 21 units, and while 21 units have remained the requirement at the state level for years, USD 489 has required 25 units. Dinkel said total unit requirements can also be discussed at the district level.

Other items:

-Branding meeting has been set for Dec. 5 with a committee of 25 individuals
-Design and development phase of the bond will begin in the coming weeks
-Policy approval regarding updates to the Superintendent’s job description and duties

The next normal board meeting will be on Dec. 12; however, the branding meeting will also be classified as a board meeting since more than four board members will be in attendance.

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