The Washington Post

New D.C. graduation requirements could bring radical change

The D.C. State Board of Education will soon propose new graduation requirements that would spell out two basic diploma types, a standard one and another signifying greater accomplishment. They would also introduce a potentially radical new way of assessing students based on competency rather than the number of hours spent in class.

For the past two years the board has been working on a revision of minimum graduation requirements that would apply to both DCPS and charter schools. Now almost finalized, the proposals would relax the upper-level math requirement, specify that students take all foreign language courses in the same language, and require a senior thesis or project only for a “Diploma of Distinction.”

More radically, they also move away from measuring achievement in terms of the number of hours students spend in class and towards a competency-based approach, which allows students to move at their own pace and requires them to demonstrate mastery of material before moving on to the next level.

Currently DCPS has a plethora of diploma types — as many as 27, according to the board’s executive director, Jesse Rauch. Some high schools, particularly the selective ones, have added their own requirements to the minimum specified by the D.C. government and DCPS.

Charter schools often have their own requirements, too, and some have even challenged the idea that the board’s minimum graduation requirements apply to them, according to Rauch. The differing frameworks can lead to problems when students transfer from one school to another, as often happens in DC.

[Continue reading Natalie Wexler’s post at Greater Greater Education.]

Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education and a member of the board of the D.C. Scholars Public Charter School. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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