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State Board chews on grad guidelines

Sometimes education policy can take an awfully long time to implement. Take, for instance, pending state guidelines on what students should be able to demonstrate they know in order to graduate from high school.

First required by a 2007 law, proposed guidelines been under study by an advisory group. Guidelines have to be adopted by the State Board of Education no later than May 15. The guidelines won’t directly impact students until the graduating class of 2021.

By the way, this discussion is couched in terms of “guidelines” because the local control provisions of the state constitution prohibit the state from imposing uniform “requirements.” Instead, local school boards will have to adopt their own requirements that “meet or exceed” the state guidelines.

The State Board of Education held a long study session on the issue Thursday, and it was clear members are a bit conflicted on the issue.

Member Elaine Gantz Berman of Denver thought the timeline is “way too long. We’re going to lose a whole generation of kids if we wait that long.”

Berman thought the suggested “cut points” that determine whether or not a student can graduate are rigorous enough, but Angelika Schroeder of Boulder said they should be tougher. “We ought to hold school boards’ feet to the fire,” she said.

But Debora Scheffel of Parker worried that tougher standards would backfire. “I’m nervous that we’re going to be graduating fewer kids,” she said.

Department of Education executive Jill Hawley said she believes the education system will respond “and find ways to support students” to meet tougher graduation standards.

“I don’t share the same level of confidence that schools will step up,” Scheffel responded.

The chart below shows currently suggested scores on various tests and grades in certain classes that students could achieve to meet graduation guidelines. The list is a moving target, because, for instance, new statewide tests will be in place by the time the guidelines go into effect.

Learn more about the proposed guidelines in these documents:

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