Graduation requirements under scrutiny

Moffat County High School officials likely will revamp graduation requirements to reflect increasingly stringent college admission standards.

As it stands, Moffat County students need 23 credits to graduate. The high school specifies the subject area for 15 of those credits; the other eight are electives.

But colleges want more.

The 36 percent of Moffat County students who say they plan to attend a four-year college or university must use some of their elective classes to fulfill college-entrance requirements. And those are getting tougher.

Students who graduate in 2008 or 2009 will have to use five of their electives to earn enough academic credits to enroll in a Colorado public college. For college-bound students graduating in 2010 and beyond, seven of their "electives" must fit specific academic categories.

The few electives that college-bound students have remaining aren't enough to allow them to pursue vocational, physical or artistic interests, Moffat County High School Principal Jane Krogman said.

The high school's current schedule doesn't allow college-bound students, for example, to participate in band for more than a year, which is counter to the school's mission of graduating well-rounded students.

But Moffat County School District Board of Education member Sandie Johns said colleges complain that too many students arrive unprepared and must pay to take non-credited remedial courses before taking on freshman-level coursework.

To give students the opportunity to take the 18 courses required by the Colorado Commission on Higher Edu--cation and the six courses local policy makers have said are essential, as well as give students the opportunity to pursue their interests, the high school must revamp its schedule.

The high school's schedule allows students to earn 26 credits in four years. There's little room for failure and even less room for students to explore options, Krogman said.

"The schedule now makes the decision an either/or for students," Krogman said.

Changing the schedule would help give the high school more opportunities to serve college-bound students as well as the 4 percent joining the military, Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said.

A committee at the high school is considering different scheduling options, including changing to a seven-class day.

The change would give students 28 credits. The school would change graduation req--uirements to reflect the addition. All students would have to take the courses that the state requires for admission into a four-year college. All students would have to take the courses Moffat County officials have deemed necessary: consumer math, physical education, technology and fine arts/vocation-related classes. And all students would have eight electives beyond those courses.

Students heading to Ivy League or private colleges may have to spend one of those electives completing an additional science credit.

"The best advice I'd give a college-bound student is 'buyer beware,'" Sheridan said. "Requirements vary from college to college."

The 8 percent of students who plan to enter vocational or technical programs and the 22 percent who will enter the work force immediately upon graduation can do so knowing they haven't closed the door on attending a four-year college, Krogman said.

"We recognize that a large number of our students will not go on to college, and we want them to succeed in whatever they choose to do," Krogman said.

Changing graduation requirements or the high school's schedule are topics under consideration, Krogman said. Officials have not made final decisions on the matters. Krogman said she would like the changes, if approved, to go into effect in the 2006-07 school year.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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