Student Forum- Graduation Requirements, Electives, and Everything In Between

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Benicia Unified Superintendent Dr. Charles Young

By Rayiah Ross

    Upon recent events with graduation requirement decisions, the BUSD Superintendent, Dr. Charles Young, and Benicia High School Principal, Brianna Kleinschmidt, have given Benicia High students the opportunity to get involved in the decision of what changes to make regarding both graduation requirements and electives.

    The meeting was in the PAB on December 14th 2017 and lasted about an hour. Both Superintendent Dr. Charles Young and Principal Kleinschmidt addressed the concern that graduation requirements are not lining up with those of UC’s and CSU’s. The meeting was split between four categories: Graduation requirements, A-G requirements, comparisons to other schools, and Electives/Course Options. While there were no firm decisions made about the graduation requirements, we were able to discuss where we are currently with requirements compared to where the college board wants us to be.

    To graduate, students must obtain 220 credits and pass at a D- or higher. According to 2016-2017 data shown at the meeting, BHS students are exceeding that with 240 credits or more. The college requirements, also known as A-G requirements, including passing AP exams, math, English, CTE Pathway completion, and obtaining a 2 or 3 on CAASPP testing. According to the University Of California, the A-G requirements are more complex than any students think. Information on A-G requirements are described below:

  1. History/ Social Science 2 YEARS-  including one year of world history, cultures and historical geography and one year of U.S. history, or one-half year of U.S. history and one-half year of  American government or civics.
  2. English 4 YEARS-  integrates reading of classic and modern literature, frequent and regular writing, and practice listening and speaking.
  3. Mathematics 3 YEARS, 4 RECOMMENDED- including or integrating the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two- and three-dimensional geometry.
  4. Laboratory Science 2 YEARS, 3 RECOMMENDED- providing fundamental knowledge in at least two of the three disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.
  5. Language other than English 2 YEARS, 3 RECOMMENDED-  the same language other than English or equivalent to the second level of high school instruction.
  6. Visual and Performing Arts 1 YEAR- chosen from dance, music, theater or the visual arts.
  7. College Prep (AP) Elective 2 SEMESTERS- meet one or more of the following objectives: Strengthen general study skills, particularly analytical reading, expository writing, and oral communications; Provide an opportunity to begin work that could lead directly into a major program of study at the University; and experience, at some depth, new areas of academic disciplines that might form the basis for future major or minor studies at the University.

    According to the information provided to by Principal Kleinschmidt, 43% of 2016-2017 graduates (168 out of 389) met the A-G requirements. Still with all of this information, Benicia High Schools graduation rate is still high with 97.7% compared to nearby school districts like Acalanes, who has 97% and a 7 period day; Napa with 95.4% and 220 credit requirements; Vanden with 97.9% and 230 cred requirements; and Martinez with 97.8% and 230 credit requirements.  

    The BUSD board is also looking into the altering of electives and course options. They are hoping to add more practical skills such as coding classes, or classes that will benefit students after high school to the curriculum alongside Get Focused, Geography, and Art. They are heavily focused of figuring out new classes rather than perfecting the ones we have, but they consideration of practical skills did not go unnoticed.  Any changes made will do nothing for the current class, but it will be in full affect in the next few years.

    To conclude the meeting, Dr. Young and Principal Kleinschmidt had students write their concerns on a piece of paper and put in into a box so that they can look over them and make their decision based off what was written. Although many students left the meeting very uncertain, Superintendent Dr. Young did leave his email in case there were any further concerns.

    If you or anyone you know has any concerns you would like to discuss with Dr. Young, please contact him at: Cyoung@beniciaunified.org

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