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Learn About New Grad Requirements

High school plans open house

By SVERRE BAKKE

The Enterprise

Washington's new graduation requirements will be the subject of a Nov. 9 open house at Columbia High School.

Those requirements, which will first affect the class of 2008, will radically change the way high schools have traditionally graduated seniors.

"The key thing that we'll be doing on the evening of Nov. 9 is showing parents examples of what their children can expect," said CHS Principal Malcolm Dennis.

The program, designed especially for parents of high school and middle school students, will begin at 7 p.m. in CHS's Miller Memorial Gym. Presentations will be offered in both English and Spanish language versions, and childcare will be provided for those who need it.

The Four R's

During the presentations by school district staff, parents will learn about the four requirements their children must satisfy beginning in 2008 in order to graduate with a certificate of academic achievement, which replaces the traditional diploma.

As mandated by the state Legislature, candidates for graduation in 2008 (and thereafter) must:

Craft a "high school and beyond" plan that outlines how they are going to fulfill their graduation requirements and what they hope to do in the year following graduation.

Achieve a minimum number of high school credits, "which is a requirement we've always had," said Dennis.

Meet the standards of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL)--the statewide reading, writing and math test that measures students' knowledge--as 10th-graders. (Students will have five opportunities to pass the "exit-level test" prior to graduation, said Dennis. Moreover, in 2010, a science test will be added to the WASL.)

Complete and present for school review a culminating project--one that helps the student understand the connection between school and the real world--in an area of study chosen by the student.

The Fifth R

School staff also will explain how CHS's educational program will be restructured to ensure students can meet the new graduation requirements, particularly passing the WASL.

Dennis said the plan, which will take effect next school year, includes providing academic help for students who need it and making accommodations for special education students and students with language difficulties.

"Next year we're going to have to build into the schedule classes to remediate those students who don't pass certain pieces of the WASL," Dennis said. "Along with that, we'll sit down with students, parents and teachers to develop plans for those students who don't pass those pieces of the test."

For more information about the Nov. 9 open house, call Columbia High School at 493-1970.

Also, additional information about the new graduation requirements can be found on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction internet website, www.ospi.wa.gov.

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