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Board to Consider Increase in NMHS Graduation Requirements

Newark Unified School Board directs district staff to present a formal policy that would make high school graduation requirements more aligned with college admission requirements.

The Newark Unified School District is going forward with plans to increase graduation requirements at .

The Board of Education voted last week to go forward with setting a policy that would align the high school’s graduation requirements with courses that need to be passed to be considered for admittance to a four-year college.

Known as the A-G requirements, the college admittance criteria asks that students take core academic classes for the majority, if not all, of their time at a high school. 

For example, to be considered for admission to a University of California campus, students must take the following courses:

  • History/Social Studies: Two years required.
  • English: Four years required.
  • Math: Three years required, four recommended.
  • Laboratory Science: Two years required, three recommended (Two years of lab science pertains to biology, chemistry and anatomy etc.).
  • Language: Two years required, three recommended (Must be two years of the same language),
  • Visual/Performing Arts: One year required.
  • College Preparatory Elective: One year required.

Current graduation requirements already require students to complete four years of English.

The rest of the graduation requirements are as follows:

  • Math: Two years, one of which must be algebra.
  • Science: Two years, one year of physical science and one year of life science.
  • History/Social Sciences: Three years.
  • Fine or Modern Languages: One year.
  • Applied Arts/Modern Languages or Fine Arts: One year.
  • Physical Education: Two years
  • State requirements: Half a year.
  • Electives: A total of 75 credits.

The board has yet to review a formal board policy that would outline the change in graduation requirements, but Superintendent Dave Marken said the plan is for the policy to come into effect in 2017-18.

“That’s a daunting task, but many districts have led the way, including San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland Unified school districts,” Marken said.

In a presentation to the school board on Feb. 7, Marken noted that having more rigorous courses will increase student success.

All board members were appreciative of Marken’s presentation but did have some concerns. Board Vice President Jan Crocker asked if there was a way to increase rigor without changing graduation requirements.

Marken said while that is an option, making an actual change to the graduation requirements will allow the entire school community to “have an actual tangible goal” so that each student will have a larger range of opportunities.

“I have a simplistic view: When kids graduate from [Newark Memorial] their world should be their oyster and they should be able to say ‘I can do any number of things. I am choosing to do this. I’m choosing to do that.’ Instead of having a narrowed option,” Marken said.

Trustee Charlie Mensinger also expressed concern about going forward with a policy before building a plan.

“I am clearly in favor of this and have always been. My concern only on this is about implementation because this is huge,” Mensinger said. “We want to do it right and not necessarily fast."

But Marken noted the plan will evolve throughout the next six years, but the focus should be to better students’ chances of attending a four-year college.

“It’s a work in progress,” Marken said. “The goal every year is to increase the percentage of students and the number of students that are eligible for UC and CSU acceptance.”

The plan is to bring the matter to the board again as an action item at the Newark Unified School Board of Education’s at the , 5715 Musick Ave.

Nadja Adolf February 17, 2012 at 09:31 AM
I think that before the city jumps on the A-G bandwagon, the board needs to consider coordinating with the ROP system as well. As Mona said, there was a time when business, trades, and other career fields were taught in high school for those who either did not wish to attend college or could not afford to do so. Some students took both vocational and college preparatory tracks concurrently; notably the President of our FFA chapter who was also valedictorian and went on to be the chief forester for Starker Forests.
Mona Taplin February 17, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Yes, ROP would be a great asset to our students. We do have some tutoring programs for students which are very beneficial. We have a "seniors in Schools" program.(Senior citizens volunteering to help in many capacities in schools) We do have many parents who volunteer their time assisting in schools.We really do have a lot going for us that we can build on. Nika, a long list of all those things we already have would be very helpful, and would clearly point out that the adults in this city do care and do reach out to help the kids acheive their goals. Now we will have well trained dogs to help sniff out drugs. Every thing being done helps. We still have a long way to go to make the improvements that have lagged so far behind, but if we all show our concern it can be done. But my personal feeling is still the same. Considering the conditions in schools today I would seriously consider the option of home schooling in order to provide a far safer, drug free enviornment.
Rob Sorensen February 17, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Junior High School needs to be where the course work gets harder such that students enter high school seeing the relevance. The standards should exceed, not just meet, the averages. Shakespeare and algebra need not wait for study in high school, just the will to challenge young minds.
P February 18, 2012 at 03:57 AM
How rude.
Jennifer Hicklin February 18, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Our students do have ROP available to them. I know several kids that attend. They share the ROP with Fremont. That big shiney new building on the corner of Blacow and Stevenson. Not very far from NMHS.

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