By Samantha Salek
SVUSD has instated a new policy that will require every student at the SVHS to meet the A-G requirements in order to graduate. This change is set to come into effect for next year’s incoming freshman.
A-G requires students to complete courses up through certain levels in each subject. The system is limited to courses that meet the requirements for admission at UC and CSU campuses.
A-G minimum requirements differ from the current SVHS graduation requirements in many ways. For example, 3 years of math are required by A-G, whereas only 2 are currently required to receive a diploma. 2 years of foreign language are required instead of 1 year of language or fine arts, and under A-G, each class must be passed with a C- grade or higher for it to count for credits while current graduation requirements count D’s as passing grades.
The shift to tougher graduation rules is the cause of much concern. Many people have expressed worries about what might happen when the plan goes into effect.
Some have argued that the dropout rate will rise if struggling students have no other options to receive a diploma than to pass A-G courses. Others worry that elective and career education classes will have to be forfeited under the new system.
While valid arguments, those opinions avoid the painful truth: not every student has the skills necessary to complete college preparatory classes. Some may be more scholarly than others, while others are more oriented towards skills outside of academia. This does not mean that these students should not be able to receive a diploma.
Due to the stricter standards, SVHS administrators anticipate a need to hire new teachers to meet the needs of students and decrease the student-to-teacher ratio. This brings yet another question to the table. With ever-increasing budget cuts plaguing the district, how might a public school find the funding to hire teachers to meet new needs? It appears that, financially, this new grad idea could not come at a worse time.
One thing is clear: if SVUSD is committed to implementing these grad rules, everyone involved with the redesign as well as all students, parents and teachers affected by the change, must be fully informed about what is to be expected of students.
In the Press Democrat article about the new policy, Nicole Duccaroz, school board president, is quoted as saying that “part of [the process of grad rule redesign] will be trial and error.” This statement raises some concern. Can students’ high school educations really be the subject of “trial and error?”
If a student doesn’t meet the high standards for graduation and, therefore, does not graduate with his or her class or if a student drops out because he or she feels hopeless under the new system, there is no easy do-over. Something like that can impact a person’s life in a major way. Students cannot be the school’s guinea pigs.
If SVUSD wants to implement A-G as a requirement for graduation, school officials need to be absolutely certain that every possible measure is being taken to meet the needs of struggling students. Alternative options to the A-G requirements need to be offered for students in need to receive diplomas.
Ideally, these new, overly idealistic graduation requirements should not be put into effect. There is way too much room for error, and students that aren’t as academically-oriented will likely suffer. However, if the school is truly set on implementing this change, then questions about the new policy need to be answered before the school rushes into this potentially harmful program. Students cannot be sacrificed as part of “trial and error.”