Fargo looks at requirements
The world has changed a lot in 20 years, but graduation requirements for Fargo students haven't. Students who complete 13 credits in six academic areas plus nine credits in electives receive a diploma from the district. That could change. This sp...
The world has changed a lot in 20 years, but graduation requirements for Fargo students haven't.
Students who complete 13 credits in six academic areas plus nine credits in electives receive a diploma from the district.
That could change.
This spring, the district kicked off a yearlong discussion of what standards Fargo students need to meet before graduating.
The goal is twofold: to make sure students leave high school with the skills they need to succeed in a high-tech world while aligning graduation requirements with traits the School Board has deemed important.
"It's moving beyond the idea that students just need to put time in a seat," said Chuck DeRemer, assistant superintendent of curriculum. "We want it to be about learning."
That means students who graduate in 2011 or later may have to complete different requirements to graduate.
For example, the board's strategic plan states all students will demonstrate a basic understanding and appreciation of the fine arts. Fargo students aren't required to take fine arts courses beyond sixth grade, DeRemer said. And the district has no way to measure whether students meet that goal.
Of the seven goals the board has set for students, only one relates to academics.
The district isn't alone in examining graduation requirements. In the wake of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools are being held more accountable for what students are learning.
Several high schools across the nation are using the law as a springboard to make education more relevant to life after graduation.
Brian Walters, president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp., said businesses want to hire students who are competent in the basics - reading, writing, mathematics and science.
"In today's economy, in almost every profession and occupation, those are the required skill sets," he said. "If students have those fundamentals nailed, that will meet the needs of employers."
Just because the Fargo School District is looking at requirements doesn't mean today's graduates are falling short of what they need to succeed, said Paul Meyers, Fargo School Board member.
Specific courses keep up with academic expectations, he said. Reviewing graduation requirements is just an opportunity for the board to make sure students will be able to do well in college or the workplace.
"We want kids to be successful when they graduate," he said. "We want that diploma to mean something."
Nick Matthees, who will be a senior at South High in the fall, said it's a good idea to reevaluate graduation requirements. He is one of dozens of students, parents, teachers, administrators and business people who will take a look at what students need to accomplish before receiving a diploma.
"Even the ACT and the SAT have changed recently," he said, referring to the nation's college entrance exams. He wants to see more science labs required.
Cherrie Moen is the parent of a recent North graduate and two younger children. She wants to make sure students receive a well-rounded introduction to many disciplines, including music and foreign language.
The task force hopes to bring recommendations to the board in the spring of 2006.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534