The district’s 24-Credit Task Force has released its final report to Superintendent Larry Nyland. It includes a number of recommendations on how district high schools might support students under a new state requirement that students must earn 24 credits to graduate.
The recommendations were informed in part by feedback from the more than 1,500 families who responded to a survey about high school scheduling, career planning, and related issues. Student focus groups also weighed in.
Note that these are recommendations only. The district must follow many processes to determine whether any of the recommendations would be implemented. Next steps include a School Board review on Wednesday, June 8, likely followed by the development of an implementation plan and feasibility study, which would include a budget analysis to determine funding priorities. The district also must negotiate any changes with teaching staff.
“We thank the task force for the extensive research and family engagement that informs this thorough report,” said Superintendent Nyland. “We will examine the feasibility of these recommendations. Meanwhile, we urge state lawmakers to fully fund education so that we may more effectively respond to new state requirements such as this. We want to do what is best for our students.”
At issue is a new state requirement that students must earn 24 high school credits to graduate. The requirement would take effect with the class of 2021 – the students entering ninth grade in 2017. Currently, Seattle Public Schools students must earn 21 credits to graduate. With most district high schools offering a six-period day (exactly 24 credits over four years), current schedules leave little wiggle room for credit recovery or electives under the new rule.
The task force, comprising parents, teachers, principals and district leadership, offered the following recommendations for all district high schools:
- A five-period daily schedule on a trimester basis. A 3x5 schedule offers students the opportunity to earn 30 credits over four years. A majority of surveyed families favored a schedule that would allow for more credits without adding more to students’ daily course-load.
- More counselors and counseling time for students. With the overwhelming support of surveyed families and students, the task force recommended a credit-bearing advisory at least two times a week. An advisory period typically means time set aside for small-group work on college and career planning, life skills, and more. Additionally, the task force recommended reducing the counselor caseload from 1:400 (in many high schools) to 1:250.
- An electronic High School and Beyond planning platform. Only some surveyed families were satisfied or familiar with the current planning process, and students requested more support. The task force recommended a user friendly electronic platform to improve equity in access and provide a more robust program.
- Extended options for learning. This includes offering online course options with teacher support, as well as expanding Career and Technical Education and summer school. A majority of families requested more online learning, and many were unfamiliar with Career and Technical Education offerings.
Visit our 24-Credit Task Force webpage to read the full report, which includes the specific data from family surveys and student focus groups.