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Committee backs tough PCHS graduation standard

The High School Standards Committee, created by Polk County Schools last year to reexamine graduation requirements, made it clear it wants Polk County High to keep its 28-credit requirement.
The requirement, which exceeds the state minimum, received the most votes of support from committee members at their most recent meeting.
The committee is planning to have the last of three meetings on March 24 to review and finalize its recommendations to the school district. Those recommendations then will be considered by the school board.
Polk County High School Aaron Greene told the committee that the high school was proud to have stricter requirements for graduation than most other schools in the state. However, he acknowledged the school must remain open to changes to keep pace with a changing academic environment that includes greater access to online learning and college credit classes for high school students.
Polk County Schools Bill Miller asked the standards committee to brainstorm freely any ideas they think would improve academic opportunities in the county. Both he and Greene said the 28-credit requirement might hold back some students who are ready to move on with their education at a higher level much earlier, or students who do not plan to go to college, but need a high school diploma.
Supt. Miller says the committee was not open to downgrading the credit requirement for graduation. However, he says, the committee did favor allowing students and parents to apply for exceptions to the rule so some unique circumstances can be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
Miller adds that the committee would like to see more done to improve the transition for ninth grade students going from the middle school to the high school. He notes that if students who struggle with the transition and fail a couple classes are at a higher risk of dropping out.
Based on discussions so far, the committee is also expected to recommend additional foreign language requirements, more college class offerings, and more support for families with additional services in the school, says Miller.
He says such recommendations may be discussed more at the March committee meeting.
The committee includes Supt. Miller, Geoff Tennant, Dr. Mary Margaret Ingle, Dave Scherping, Aaron Greene, Mary Feagan, Tawana Weicker, Mary Greene, Walker Williams, Dottie Kinlaw, Tamara Black, Jim Van Hecke, Janet Sciacca, Warren Carson, Steve Wray and Dr. Roger Metcalf.
Metcalf, the former director of the Western Region Education Service Alliance (WRESA) and a former teacher, administrator and member of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, is facilitating the committees meetings.