School board strengthens graduation requirments

Photo: Courtesy
Photo: Courtesy

City News Service

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday to boost its graduation requirements to match the University of California and California State University systems' subject requirements, but rejected other proposals for increasing the number of classes students need to take.

Assistant Superintendent Sid Salazar presented the school board with five ways to change the district's graduation requirements and the board voted on each suggestion separately.

All board members except Shelia Jackson, who was absent, voted to align the district's graduation requirements with the UC and CSU systems' ''A-G'' subject requirements, which include an additional year of Algebra 2, two years of world language classes and either one year of a career technical education or visual and performing arts class.

Salazar also recommended the school board add graduation requirements that he said would ensure students who do not go to college are prepared for careers. His proposal would require students to take two years of career technical education classes and one year of a capstone regional occupation program class.

The board split 2-2 on that recommendation, with board members John Lee Evans and Kevin Beiser voting against it.

All four board members then voted instead to send the recommendation back to a committee for further study.

Salazar proposed increasing the number of graduation requirement credits from 44 to 48, but no board members would make a motion to vote on it, so it failed.

The board voted 3-1 to begin implementing Salazar's proposed requirements with the class of 2016, with Barnett casting the opposing vote.

All four board members voted in approval of Salazar's final recommendation, to provide extra support for students earning D and F grades.

Andrea Guerrero, the director of the non-profit Equality Alliance San Diego, told the board increasing graduation requirements was necessary to ensure students can move on to college and careers.

"This isn't a dramatic change, it's just three additional requirements that students are going to need when they go out into the workforce,'' she said.

"I don't think any of us would be willing to argue these are not important skills. There's no reason we shouldn't put a stake in the sand, let people know this is coming and prepare them for it."

The school board also voted 3-1 to provide summer school for students in first, third and eighth grades who are at risk of not passing to the next grade and for high school seniors who need core courses to graduate. Board President Richard Barrera cast the opposing vote.

About 300 seniors and 2,850 first, third and eighth graders are currently eligible for summer school. This year's summer school program will cost $1.14 million, and will be paid for with Title I and Economic Aid Impact funds.



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