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Changes to grad marching coming by steps
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The Effingham County Board of Education agreed to gradually reduce the required number of credits needed for high school graduation to align with the new seven-period day schedule.

Seniors graduating this May will be required to have passed at least 29 classes to graduate, and freshman starting in August will need only 24 credits to graduate.

“That is in line, we believe, with the new policies from the state, (such as) Move On When Ready, dual enrollment programs, students going to college,” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said. “That’s a good reason for looking at reducing the number of credits (required for graduation) as well.

“You’re still meeting your state requirements. Still, our expectations are higher than what the state requirements are, but that will be what will be expected in the future so those students can move on to post-secondary options sooner than later.”

The amount remains one credit higher than the state requires and will be phased in for each grade. Lost credits were carved mainly from the number of locally required electives. However, social studies requirements will drop from four required credits to 3.5 for current seniors and juniors, then to three credits for current and rising freshmen. Local required electives will drop to one credit for incoming freshmen and 4.5 for rising seniors.

The change is necessary because students will only have seven opportunities to earn course credit each year rather than eight, as the 4x4 block availed. On block scheduling, students could earn eight credits a year, for 32 total opportunities to earn the necessary 29 credits.

Starting next school year, students will take the same seven courses all year, and if they struggle, they may have to be pulled into a remedial-type class to graduate on time. The board decided to move to the seven-period day last month in preparation for further budget constraints in the coming fiscal year.

Board member Vickie Decker brought up concerns about student remediation, because the system’s intervention programs had made great strides in student graduation rates.

“With block scheduling, if kids got behind, we could put them on a computer program and get them caught up,” Shearouse said. “What we’ll need to do is, if a student’s not doing well, we’ll have to remove them out of that class and put them into a remedial-type program, because you don’t have next semester to do that. You’ll have to do it sooner rather than later and know that that has to be done in order for our students to achieve success.”

Students will still be required to have four credits of core coursework in English, mathematics, science, as well as four state required electives.

Those entering high school in the fall must have three credits from CTAE, modern language or fine arts, one health/physical education credit, one local required elective and three social studies credits. The three social studies credits required are a U.S history, a world history, a half-credit for American government/civics and a half credit for economics.

The class of 2012 will need 28 credits, 27 for class of 2013, 26 for 2014 graduates, and for the class of 2015, 24 credits.

“It’s interesting — you think back to when some of us were in high school,” Shearouse said to board members. “It was 17 or 18 credits that you had to have to graduate from high school. Now because we are required by the state to have core English classes, core math classes, core science classes, there are a lot more requirements than we used to have.”