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February 28, 2012 > Newark School Board to raise graduation standards

Newark School Board to raise graduation standards

Submitted By Terry Roderick-Alderete

A landmark decision to raise the graduation standards beginning with the class of 2017-18, (current 6th graders), was passed by the Newark Unified School District (N.U.S.D.) Board of Trustees at the February 7 Board meeting. With the overarching goal that, "Newark Graduates will receive a rigorous education that prepares them for any postsecondary option."

In August 2010, the community organization, Avanzando, presented a list of recommendations to the school board that included a proposal to adopt the A-G curriculum- the policy that makes the UC/CSU minimum admission requirements for graduation. The belief being, that all students should graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in life after high school. Since the initial proposal, parents, teachers, trustees, the superintendent, school administration, including Avanzando, have worked together to make this a reality.

Dave Marken, N.U.S.D. Superintendent, presented the policy proposal to the Board in which he gave a compelling presentation. Citing research into studies, debates, presentations and other sources of information on the A-G curriculum, he stated, "It is increasingly clear that skills necessary for higher education and work have converged. Student success, in college and in gaining access to decent jobs, depends on completing a rigorous, college prep-level curriculum. A culture of high expectations leads to success. Schools that tended to demonstrate a strong culture of high expectations, as evidenced by their attention to meeting and exceeding state and federal accountability targets and setting high standards for student achievement, on the average, had higher API scores..."

The summary of the research concluded:

Raising expectations in the form of rigor in high school graduation requirements results in students doing better

A culture of high expectations leads to greater success

Skills necessary for higher education and work have converged

Student success in college and in gaining acceptance to decent jobs, depends on completing a rigorous curriculum

The single biggest predictor of college success is the "quality and intensity of high school curriculum!"

The N.U.S.D. trustees, administration and supporters recognize that a lot of work lies ahead. There are many concerns and challenges- professional development and collaboration with teachers, communications of strategies and requirements to parents, teachers and the special needs populations (special education, ELL, struggling learners, etc.), the impact on transfer students, use of summer school and of course, budget issues , just to name a few. However, all agree that it will take everyone to hold our institution accountable for success. The bar is raised and the challenge is great and so will be the rewards!

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