For the first time in 10 years, school districts across South Dakota have new graduation requirements.
Lennox High School Principal Chad Allison said the district adopted the new graduation requirements and those new requirements can go into effect immediately. Allison said the state had a research team working on the updates and passed through the state board of education last year.
“I think the reason is because they’re thinking about more than just the college pathway anymore. I think that career pathway is becoming a bigger and bigger pathway anymore,” he said.
In the past and for the graduating class of 2019, graduates received a diploma and their transcripts showed only the credits they received and did not differentiate if they had taken a certain pathway. Going forward, graduates will have different endorsements on their transcripts that include basic diploma, advanced career diploma, advanced diploma and advanced honors diploma.
The minimum number of credits to graduate from high school is 22. However, in Lennox, the current number of credits to graduate is 23 and remains at 23 for all four pathways.
In basic diploma, Allison said that pathway is for work prep and students must be approved by the school counselor, principal, special education staff and parents to take that path.
While students will now have four pathways to go down, Allison noted that most students currently would graduate with the advanced diploma or the advanced honors diploma. His goal going forward is that 90 percent of students will graduate with the advanced career, advanced or advanced honors diploma.
When students enter high school, most students will be taking the same general courses and then as they continue through the years, they will take different classes and electives.
Among the four different pathways, Allison noted the advanced career path will have the most notable difference. For example, the highest level of math they need to take is algebra 1, but they still need two more credits for math. Allison said algebra 1 is currently the lowest level of math they offer in the high school.
“What we have to do as a district is... we don’t offer any math class less than algebra 1 right now. We would have to add. Likely, you’re looking at math classes that are not harder than algebra 1,” he said.
Right now the district offers a number of higher level math courses like algebra 2, geometry, AP calculus, precalculus and statistics and probability. However, they will be looking at other classes like consumer math and other math courses to meet the requirements for advanced career.
While each pathway requires 23 credits to graduate, what courses they require and how many credits of each differs. In the basic diploma, students need 4.5 credits in English, three credits each in math, science and social studies, one credit each in fine arts and CTW/world language, half a credit each in physical education, health and personal finance, and six credits of electives.
For the advanced career diploma, students need 4.5 credits in English, three credits each in math, science and social studies, one credit in fine arts, half a credit each in physical education, health and
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