Charles City High School graduation credits change could result in several benefits
By Dr. Anne Lundquist, Superintendent, Charles City Community School District
As you may be aware, district leadership and the School Board are in conversations regarding the number of credits required to graduate from high school.
Data collected from neighboring and nearby districts revealed the number of credits required ranged from 44 to 54.
As it currently stands, our district requires the highest number of credits of all districts in the area, at 54 (tied with Osage and Riceville CSDs). The number of credits required by the Iowa Department of Education is 30.
Sadly, there are currently between 15% to 24% of the senior class at risk of not graduating.
These students would be eligible for a diploma if they attended almost all of the area districts including Waverly-Shell Rock, Decorah, New Hampton, RRMR and Nashua-Plainfield.
Our graduation rate is lower than most area schools, which is due in large part to challenges in the current system.
As you can imagine, this situation is complex and multifaceted and involves a number of issues including:
• Adjusting the order and pathways for courses;
• Ensuring access to study halls to give students time to get assignments finished;
• Making better use of the “advisory time” available daily for student support;
• Increasing professional development for teachers with large numbers of students with failing grades;
• Thoroughly preparing of ninth grade students for the rigors of high school; and last, but certainly not least,
• Adjusting the number of credits the district requires to graduate.
Each of these areas is currently being addressed, and improvement at various levels in the system is already evident.
Moreover, these changes will result in a number of benefits including opportunities for high performing students to graduate with recognition for their academic excellence, increased opportunities for students to take challenging classes such as Advanced Placement and NIACC courses, and increase in the number of students who graduate in four years. (See this handout for more information – bit.ly/3RM9ikV.)
Charles City High School Principal Jeremiah Bliss recently surveyed parents of high school students and found about 75% of the respondents felt the number of credits should be adjusted so that it is comparable to neighboring and nearby districts.
In essence, doing so would “level the playing field” for our students as compared to other area high schools.
Currently, there are a fair number of high school students in danger of not graduating on time, as a result of failing one or two courses.
Retaking the course often overloads these students by adding additional coursework to their four-year graduation plans, and usually removes their option for a study hall.
Unfortunately, I have had a couple of parents tell me that they have chosen to open enroll their children to another district so that they can be certain they will be able to graduate on time.
What is important to remember is that reducing the number of credits is not synonymous with lowering standards.
High expectations for student performance and outcomes will still be required and rigorous content and engaging instruction will continue in all classrooms, including access to advanced placement courses.
Quantity, in other words, is not synonymous with quality in this instance.
Please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mr. Bliss (email@example.com) if you have additional questions or would like to talk more. We are both happy to assist you in better understanding this issue.