Board approves request to modify high school graduation requirements

The state Board of Education on Thursday unanimously voted to approve a request to modify high school graduation and commencement requirements for the graduating class of 2020, allowing the state Department of Education “to move forward with finalizing a graduation plan that principals, complex area and state leadership have been developing over the past two weeks,” the DOE said in a news release.

For students who do not meet proficiency, an extension or other options will be available, and further considerations are being made for students within block or multi-track schedules.

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The plan also includes additional considerations for academic honors and dual credit as well as workforce opportunities such as career and technical education and military designations.

The full plan will be released early next week, the DOE said.

“Adjusting to this global crisis has required school districts nationwide to rethink how education is delivered,” said BOE Chairwoman Catherine Payne. “We understand that students, families and our teachers want answers and we’re hoping that today’s decision will provide some closure as the department will now be able to move forward with sharing and implementing plans for the remainder of the school year.”

There are currently 11,183 seniors, with approximately 90% eligible to graduate on time based on third-quarter grades, which are still being processed.

The department is starting to identify and categorize students into four bands to provide necessary support.

Band 1: Students who are on track based on third-quarter grades will receive a diploma. Enrichment and learning opportunities will continue to ensure they are ready for career, military and post-secondary opportunities.

Band 2: Students who are not meeting proficiency based on their third-quarter grades. They are targeted for intervention and remediation to help them graduate on time. These individualized plans will be developed at the school level.

Band 3: Students who are not meeting proficiency based on third-quarter grades and are unable to achieve proficiency during the fourth-quarter time period. Supports being proposed include providing summer school or E-School options.

Band 4: Students who were failing by the end of the first semester and are unable to achieve proficiency during the fourth quarter and with summer options. Administrators, counselors and teachers will work directly with these students and their families to develop a personalized plan.

The DOE said waiver does not relax standards, but provides flexibility to ensure eligible seniors graduate on time and can transition smoothly to their post-high school paths.

The department said it will make a decision by April 15 regarding commencement ceremonies.

The BOE also unanimously voted to approve the department’s waiver request to cancel federally required statewide standardized assessments for the 2019-20 school year.

The public can submit comments until April 10 online at bit.ly/testwaiver regarding this waiver.

School facilities have been closed to students since March 19, with traditional, in-school instruction temporarily discontinued until at least April 30.

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Schools have launched distance learning opportunities and/or learning packets were distributed.

A resource for parents is also available at bit.ly/HIDOEVirtualLearningParentResource.

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