Even though it doesn't look like the school board will make the Graduation Project a districtwide requirement anytime soon, some students are pushing forward on their own.
As noted in today's article, 482 rising seniors have returned a form to their school saying they intend to complete the project before graduating in 2010. If senioritis doesn't get in the way, they'll get to wear a cord on their gown and receive a notation on their transcript near year.
There are also four students who are graduating a year early who will have a cord on their gowns this month.
Still, most students aren't going to do a project on their own. That's why the school board had been leaning until Tuesday toward making it a local requirement.
Staff presented four options for implementing a local version.
Option one would have meant converting the existing 11th-grade English research paper from one about literary criticism into one based on student interest. Students would have had to present their research to the teacher and their classmates.
Option two would have had the research presented to a panel of faculty members.
Option three would have added the development of a product, presentation of research to a panel of faculty and community members and keeping a portfolio that was not formally assessed.
Option four would have matched what the state Board of Education proposed for the Graduation Project. In addition to option three, the portfolio would have been formally assessed.
One big variation from the state proposal would be that staff had suggested making the mentoring requirement optional but encouraged for students.
School board member Lori Millberg suggested requiring option one and then leaving it up to future boards whether to go on to the other options if funding permitted.
But other board members, notably Kevin Hill and Eleanor Goettee, questioned how much students would actually get out of only doing option one.
“I hope we do it right or we don’t do it," Hill said.
Hill also said that using option one would put everything on the English teacher, adding more to the workload and taking up as much as a week of class time on the presentations.
Board members also weren't certain if they should make the research paper a graduation requirement or just something that would be graded as part of 11th-grade English.
Board members readily agreed that the funding didn't exist to use options three or four, which would be closer to what they wanted. This led to them agreeing to recommend not making the Grad Project a requirement for at least the Class of 2011.
Board members said they wanted to let the students graduating in 2011 know as soon as possible if they were expected to work on the project.
Click here for the handout presented by staff on Tuesday.