By SVERRE BAKKE
They may not know it yet, but Henkle Middle School eighth-graders who will be freshmen next year will be the first Columbia High School class required to meet new, stringent graduation requisites set by the state Board of Education.
Last month, the White Salmon Valley Schools Board of Directors approved CHS's plan for complying with the state's tough education accountability standards.
Those standards will be applied at CHS for the first time in 2004-05, to apply to members of the incoming class that will graduate in 2008. In order to receive a diploma, those students must have:
Crafted a high school-and-beyond plan that explains how they intend to meet graduation requirements and outlines their goals for the year after graduation;
Accumulated the required 30 credits in four years;
Received a certificate of mastery for passing the reading, writing, and math portions of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) as sophomores (they will get four chances to pass the test; the class of 2010 also will have to pass a science section); and
Completed a self-directed senior culminating project in an area of study of their choice and presented their findings to an evaluation committee panel. (Seniors also will be required to compile a portfolio of their high school educational experiences and best works.)
According to CHS Principal Tim McGlothlin, the school will hold an open house on Tuesday, May 11, to share this information with parents and their eighth-grade students and to pre-register incoming freshmen in classes for the 2004-05 school year.
Jerry Lewis, a CHS teacher who chaired the committee that developed the school's education accountability plan, told the school board last month that how school officials will oversee students' progress in meeting CHS's graduation standards is still to be decided. But at some point, Lewis added, as new classes enter high school, the business of ensuring compliance may require the services of a full-time coordinator.
The question of "Who is going to pay for those services?" is one that doesn't have a clear-cut answer.
"It's a big, unfunded mandate," noted Lewis of the new graduation requirements.