High school grad requirements eased because of pandemic

Grad requirements are changing for the High School Class of 2021.

School district administrators across the state are working to adopt new graduation requirements for the class of 2021 that could exempt up to four credits for those struggling to make the grade during the pandemic. Local administrators also anticipate sanctions for other grades in high school.

Aberdeen Superintendent Dr. Alicia Henderson said the district school board is likely to adopt a resolution in the coming month that will allow the waiver of up to four credits, two core classes or up to four electives, for the class of 2021. Currently, up to two elective credits can be waived to help a student meet the 26-credit graduation requirement for 2021 seniors at Aberdeen High School. The State Board of Education recently approved an emergency waiver allowing two additional credits and allowing a total of two credits of core classes to be waived.

“There’s likely to be few students in that category, in part because we have had the trimester (system) that had the additional credits,” says Henderson. She doesn’t believe that many of her seniors will be affected.

“But I think there’s an effort under way throughout the state and nation to ensure that our kids are not adversely affected by school closures, particularly in regards to graduation.” says Henderson, noting that additional concessions for graduation requirements are being considered for the 11th through 9th grades. That hasn’t been detailed yet, and Henderson is hoping that those students can recover the lost time through the district’s extended learning program this summer.

She said that if students need more credits to graduate the district’s trimester system, “coupled with our credit recover that we’re offering in June, is likely to meet the needs of those students.” Detailed to the school board earlier this month, the extended learning program will offer algebra readiness, algebra, geometry, U.S. history, civics/CWI, Pacific NW history, integrated science, biology, English and Edgenuity courses. The program begins this June and will offer open enrollment for any student wishing to recover credits or improve their grade. The program at the high school will focus on credits needed for graduation. Students will have the opportunity to earn up to two credits through the summer. And at all grade levels, the program will have a strong social-emotional component to help students recover from the trauma of the pandemic. Three principals have been named to spearhead development of the program; Aaron Roiko, Jamie Stotler and Joan Hoehn. Government stimulus funds will be used to ensure the programs are robust and results-oriented.

For the class of 2021, each school board needs to adopt the emergency waiver of additional credits. The policy recently adopted at Aberdeen waiving the first two credits said that adult students, parents or guardians need to file the district’s Application for Waiver of High School Graduation Credits (Form 2418F) with the superintendent’s office no later than 30 days prior to the student’s scheduled graduation date. Henderson said their board will likely adopt a resolution for waiver of the other two credits during a special meeting before their first April meeting of the board. Hoquiam District Superintendent Mike Villareal says they will present theirs to the board at the April 15 meeting.

Back to semesters at AHS

This will be the final year for the trimester system at Aberdeen High School, as students return to a semester schedule at the beginning of the 2021/2022 school year this coming fall. The high school switched to a trimester system four years ago under the previous administration, as Henderson was just getting started with the district. She said the school plans to switch back to a semester system next year, in part because the trimester system requires more credits to graduate.

Regardless of which district a student is in, class of 2021 students who feel they may need to waive credits in order to graduate should talk with their school counselor as soon as possible to stay on track.