The Cherry Creek School District's incoming freshman and sophomore class will face a new set of graduation requirements, standards designed to properly prepare them for college and career preparedness in the 21st century.
Beginning with the class of 2021, the district will implement new graduation requirements as per board policy IKF-E, approved by the Board of Education earlier this year. These changes align with larger shifts at the state level, as the Colorado Department of Education determined in 2013 that all districts in the state should modify their graduation requirements to meet the evolving demands of the academic and professional world. As freshmen and sophomores kick off the 2018-19 school year, it's important that they remember these shifting requirements. Students and parents alike will benefit from planning early.
Specifically, freshmen and sophomores will have to demonstrate college and career preparedness in English and math in order to graduate. In Cherry Creek Schools, students will have a wealth of different options for meeting these requirements, including test scores, concurrent enrollment classes and a "district capstone," a culminating project or portfolio for high school juniors. In other words, the capstone will be an individualized exhibition of a student's project or experience that demonstrates learning and mastery.
"Students have flexibility in meeting these requirements," said Joi Green Counseling Coordinator for CCSD. "The menu of options in (board policy) IKF-E allows for multiple pathways for students to demonstrate what they have learned."
These new requirements won't change the existing standard of 22 credits for high school students to receive their diploma. High school students in CCSD will still need to earn the Carnegie units that cover English, math, science, social science, physical education, health, fine arts and electives.
Beginning with the class of 2021, students will have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their English and math competency through a variety of measures, including a secondary writing assessment in their junior English class and a series of skill-based assessments within their Algebra 2 class. These come along with a wide range of academic options available to CCSD high school students for meeting the new requirements, ranging from well-known assessments like the ACT and SAT tests to AP and IB exams to concurrent enrollment classes.
The district offers many of these options at no expense to the students.
It's important that every student work with their counselors, teachers and school staff to identify their best pathway for meeting these requirements. According to Green, the process will give students even more flexibility to highlight their academic achievements in the best possible way.
"I'm excited for the change," Green said. "It's going to give students an opportunity to demonstrate how they're learning. For a long time, we've based graduation on credits instead of focusing on learning. I think these new pathways for students is exciting and validating. It demonstrates to our students that we value how each and every one of them is learning."