How many and what kinds of credits are required to graduate from District 6?


Graduation Requirements

To earn a diploma from District 6 high schools, students must earn a total of 22.0 credits, with specific requirements in certain areas (please see below).

District 6 high schools award credits to students based on annual basis, rather than a semester basis; one year’s worth of successful study and achievement in a class will result in 1.0 credit being awarded to the student. Students are designated as Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors or Seniors based on the number of credits they have acquired, rather than the number of years they have been in school.

Specific area requirements:
 
Within the overall total of 22.0 annual credits, students must accumulate a minimum number of credits in the following academic areas.
  • LANGUAGE ARTS: 4.0 annual credits required
  • MATH: 3.0 annual credits required
  • SCIENCE: 3.0 annual credits required
  • SOCIAL STUDIES: 3.0 annual credits of Social Studies required
  • PE/HEALTH: 1.5 annual credits (note: in addition to regular PE/Health classes, PE credit may be acquired through participation in CHSAA-approved sports or marching band)
  • ELECTIVES: 7.5 annual credits required (in addition to regular elective classes, students may earn elective credit for community service experiences)

Background
 
School District 6 updated its graduation requirements in the spring of 2010 to meet the legislative requirements of the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K) education reform program. These new requirements become effective in August 2010 (graduating class of 2011).

CAP4K required Colorado school districts to bring their local graduation requirements into alignment with CAP4K by June 2010.

The district's previous requirements didn’t match up well with some parts of CAP4K, particularly with the requirement for each student to have an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP), which is a plan of study for an area of academic or career interest.

In response, the district developed the new graduation requirements and a Career Pathway model of course selection that brought the district into alignment with the state's
expectations.

The new graduation requirements help ensure that:
  • District 6’s credit requirements are comparable to other districts of similar size and demographics.
  • Students will be able to use Career Pathways to meet their requirement of having an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP).
  • Students’ high school experience will be based on future career and academic goals.
  • Coursework taken by students in ninth- and tenth-grade will be based on development of proficiency in reading, writing, math and science on state assessments.
  • Students will have more flexibility in how they can acquire credits through non-traditional routes.
  • Students will have more time within their schedules to take advanced courses (honors, AP, IB, and other rigorous, upper-level high school classes)
  • Students will have more opportunities to take college-level courses while still in high school.
  • Students who struggle in a course will now have time in their schedules to retake a failed course.

Career Pathways
 
District 6 is using the national model of career “clusters” or “pathways” to help students see the connections between their high school studies and their future career and academic interests. These pathways also help students select courses to take while in high school. For more information on the 18 identified pathways that are available for District 6 students, please click here.

For more general information about career clusters and pathways, please visit www.careerclusters.org and www.careervoyages.gov.

Timeline of process used to develop new graduation requirements

2005-2006
District 6 convened a High School Task Force to “study various ways students can earn a District 6 diploma and to remove barriers to achievement at the high school level.” The task force, which met monthly, developed a report of findings. One of the recommendations was to revise graduation requirements.
People involved: Eight middle and high school principals, one board member, two counselors, nine district office administrators and one ESS teacher

2006-2007
The District Curriculum Council (DCC) identified barriers to high school achievement and graduation.
People involved: Twenty-one teachers, four principals and nine district administrators
District’s response to finding: Initial attempts were made to provide reading and math interventions at the middle and high school levels.

2007-2008
The original High School Task Force was reconvened and expanded to continue the discussion about high school achievement and graduation rates. Once again, the recommendation was made to revise the graduation requirements.
People involved: Ten district administrators, eight principals, two counselors, five teachers (including GEA) and two community persons.
District’s response to findings:
• PLATO was purchased for dropout recovery.
• Students were allowed to retake courses during the regular school day.
• Middle and high school reading and math interventions were fully
implemented.

Community engagement meetings were held on October 22, November 26 and April 28 at which parents and community members were asked for feedback related to graduation.
People involved: 165 people attended these meeting. Attendees were a mix of district employees, civic leaders, parents, and general public.
District’s response to findings: Data were collected from patrons to guide the revision of graduation requirements.

2008-2009
Community engagement meetings were held on September 22, October 27, November 24 and January 26 at which parents and community members were asked for feedback related to graduation.
People involved: 100 people attended these meetings. Attendees were a mix of district employees, civic leaders, parents, and general public.
District’s response to findings:
• Data were collected from patrons to guide the revision of graduation
requirements.
• Greeley Alternative Program (GAP) was created to provide multiple
options for dropouts and potential dropouts to graduate.
• Trademark West was opened in the fall of 2009 to provide more options
for students who were dropping out of our traditional high schools.

December 5, 2009
Special District 6 Board of Education meeting was held at Colorado Association of School Boards’ annual conference. The board reviewed preliminary recommendations for graduation requirements.
People involved: Six board members were in attendance.
District’s response to findings: The board made suggestions which were incorporated into first draft.

December 16, 2009
First draft of new graduation requirements was created by district administration based on all data collected from 2005 to date. Feedback was solicited from principals, assistant principals, counselors and high school teachers.
People involved: 4 high school principals, 12 counselors, and approximately 60 teachers.
District’s response to findings: Second draft was created based on feedback from these groups. The second draft cleaned up issues identified by these groups; it did not change the credit requirements nor specific content area requirements. Further feedback from other constituent groups was needed.

January 2010
Meetings scheduled to solicit feedback from other constituent groups:
• January 5 – District Diversity Council
• January 6 – Elementary School principals
• January 11 - Greeley West High School parents
• January 13 – Middle School principals
• January 14 – District Curriculum Council
• January 19 – Northridge High School parents
• January 19 – District Accountability Committee
• January 20 – Greeley Central High School parents
• January 25 – Community Engagement meetings

January-February 2010
Third draft created based on feedback from January meetings and other public feedback.

February 2010
Board meetings
• February 8 – first public reading and discussion of proposal for new requirements
• February 22 – adoption of new requirements

August 2010
New graduation requirements go into effect.

Changes in graduation requirements emphasize student choice

The following guest column by Dr. Ranelle Lang, superintendent of School District 6, appeared in the Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, opinion page of the Greeley Tribune.

What skills do Colorado’s high school graduates need to be ready for the work force?

What skills do they need for success in college or post-secondary technical training?

How can students get a head start on their careers or college while still in high school?

Those are the questions that educators and employers continually wrestle with, and they’re the same questions that drove the Colorado Legislature in 2008 to pass a major education reform initiative, Senate Bill 08-212. This bill, better known as “Colorado’s Achievement Plan for Kids” or CAP4K, aligns educational expectations and goals in Colorado from preschool through college.

For school districts across Colorado, CAP4K is changing the way we do business.

CAP4K calls for every single student entering high school to create an Individual Career and Academic Plan based on the student’s own college or career interests. Students will then follow a rigorous, coherent program of studies focused on their chosen career-cluster pathways and designed to prepare them for post-secondary education and successful careers.

This is a good move for education. It leverages years of real-world research and provides clear direction for educators and students.
Here in District 6 our aim is to take the excellent framework CAP4K provides and adjust our requirements so that we can improve the way we prepare students for the work force, for college, for military service, or whatever path the student chooses.
And that’s really the bottom line – student choice. It’s been proven time and again that high-school options lead to engagement, and the better engaged a student is, the more likely he or she is to graduate and succeed.

In District 6 we will use the national “16 Career Clusters and Pathways” model to help students create their individual plans. Career clusters are major groupings of similar jobs and industries, such as business, law enforcement, health, or information technology. We’re adding two clusters to the national model: IB/liberal arts and energy/green technology. Within each of the clusters, programs of study (also called “career pathways”) outline sequences of education needed to obtain progressively higher-skilled positions in the specific industries or occupations.

You can learn more at www.careerclusters.org.
The classes that students will take throughout high school will be primarily based on their individual plans. There are a few exceptions, courses required by law for every student to take (civics, health, U.S. history), but otherwise students and their parents will have a major say in what classes to enroll in—with additional guidance and assistance from counselors, teachers and principals.

The recommendation under consideration in District 6 doesn’t actually change our existing credit requirements all that much. Language arts? No change; eight semesters still required. Math? No change; six semesters still required. Science? No change; six semesters still required. These three core content areas of study are not being changed at all.
The only credit reductions being proposed are half a credit in social studies (from seven semesters to six), half a credit in PE (from four semesters to three), half a credit in Career and Technical Education, and 1.5 credits in electives (from 17 semesters to 14). The 44 semester credits in our draft recommendation will equal the requirements in other districts such as Boulder, Aurora and Cherry Creek.

This proposal would also create far more opportunities for our students to take UNC and Aims classes while still in high school. Students will be able to graduate from high school with college credit and experience already in hand, at a big cost savings to them and their parents.

The Board of Education will review and vote on these student-focused recommendations at its two meetings in February.

Between now and then, I’d like to hear from students, parents, educators, business leaders and others. Will this recommendation help our high school graduates be ready for the work force, college, or other post-secondary plans?