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Essential Skills for the Real World (or College)

What do you think of Oregon’s new graduation requirements?

Are high school graduates adequately prepared for the workforce or post-secondary education? Many people say “no.” And from that answer comes new high school graduation requirements in Oregon. The general requirements were passed unanimously by the State Board of Education last year. The Board is tackling some of the details today.

These new graduation requirements will be phased in between 2010 and 2014. Students will take 24 credits as opposed to the current 22. They’ll take one extra class each in math (at the Algebra I level or above), science and english, two more arts/second language/career and technical education classes, and three fewer electives.

Students will also need to show that they’ve mastered a set of so-called “essential skills,” including reading, writing, applying mathematics, and speaking clearly. But the state is proposing multiple ways to accomplish these goals, and this is a big part of what’s being discussed today.

For each essential skill they can either achieve a passing score on the state assessment tests, complete an approved locally scored assessment (such as a work sample or student project), or achieve a passing score on another approved standardized test that is yet to be determined. These options are what might make Oregon’s graduation requirements particularly unique. (And particularly complicated.)

Meanwhile in Washington officials are also exploring how to change graduation requirements and, dependent upon funding, they too hope to pass new standards next month. In Washington the proposed changes are referred to as Core 24.

What do you think? Are our region’s high school graduates adequately prepared for work, post-secondary education, or life in general? Will these proposed changes make a difference? Should students have to pass one standardized test in order to prove their “essential skills?” Or do testing options provide more opportunities for students to prove their knowledge?

How will these new requirements impact you, your children, or your community?

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