Our work to modify graduation requirements has been mentioned in the past, but I want to update you on our progress. We are fortunate to have a board that has taken this seriously to ensure that the final guidelines reflect our community values. The time is now for you to weigh in on this important discussion.
Many of us operated under the system of logging seat time and amassing credits that didn’t measure the readiness of the graduate. We’ve all heard of students leaving high school unprepared. The goal is to ensure that students leave our schools in Durango not only with the academic knowledge, but the character and skill necessary to be successful in college, trade school, the work place or military.
What is proposed for the Class of 2021 is a menu of options to demonstrate mastery of critical skills and competencies in language arts, math, science and social studies prior to graduation, and then offer courses aligned to meet the needs of students in achieving such competency while exploring their passions and interests. Students struggling to achieve competency will be able to take advantage of a variety of options to deepen their understanding and sharpen their skills in core content areas. Students who are advanced will be able to accelerate and take advantage of increased opportunities, which may include internships and post-secondary coursework, as needed.
A few conversation points have surfaced. Should our students be required to take four years of math and is a world language required for graduates? We want students to find relevance in their K-12 education, and our board has heard many differing perspectives. While there is no question about the need for our students to master mathematical skill and concepts, the question has been to what degree should all students be required to do so? A lot of conversation has surfaced around creating courses that allow students to apply math in real world or personal financial literacy areas. Relative to the world language questions, our board also wants students to have cultural competency, but is high school the time to do so? Do students benefit from being required to take two years of world language in their last four years of school, or is that too late?
Both of these issues are undecided, and the entire plan still is being discussed. Your voice and participation will be helpful. On Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. at Durango High School, parents of eighth-graders and their eighth-grade students are invited to participate in an important session to weigh in on these graduation guidelines. On Wednesday, Oct. 19 beginning at 5:30 pm, the District’s Accountability and Advisory Council meets at our central administration building to offer opportunities for parents and members of our community to hear more and provide their thoughts and ideas.
Come, join the discussion.
Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.