SUHSD alters graduation credit requirements for class of 2020

Isaac Lozano

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Information was collected from the Bonita Vista High website and the recent email from Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Karen Janney, Ed.D.

On April 24, the temporary implementation of a revised graduation plan known as the California Graduation Plan was announced by Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) Superintendent Karen Janney, Ed.D. This plan is implemented for all SUHSD students in the Class of 2020 and current Grade 13 students.

The plan lowers the minimum graduation requirements to 26 credits from 44 credits and meets the minimum graduation requirements mandated by the California Department of Education (CDE). Students must remain enrolled in their current courses and will receive credit for them regardless of completion of course content. Health and community service hours are currently not required for graduation.

“[We are] recognizing that seniors have certain classes like a health class that they wait until later [to complete]. A lot of [them] take it online or through Southwestern [College] or different things, so we understand that because of everything going on they’re not going to be able to take that,” SUHSD Grants and Communications Director Manuel Rubio said.

In the email announcing the new plan, Janney cited disparities in student access to technology during distance learning as the primary motive for the revised plan in accordance with the CDE’s guidance to prevent educational harm for students.

“Although more than 83% of the district students have devices and connectivity, our expectation is that all students are supported and have access,” Janney wrote in the email.

Janney further explained that some seniors in their second semester were in the process of taking courses they had failed or had not previously taken for required graduation credits, but now “credit recovery is not accessible to all students equally.”

In order to “address the educational needs of seniors during this semester,” the SUHSD formed a Graduation Committee on April 17 composed of counselors, teachers, school administrators and district administrators. Based on their input and the CDE’s guidance, the SUHSD decided to revise their graduation requirements to ensure equal access for all students.

“We’re trying to hold everybody harmless,” Rubio said. “The idea behind that is basically ‘look, we understand all [of] this [is] going on. We don’t want to do damage to somebody. So that’s why even in grading we’re not lowering anybody’s grade, but you can definitely improve a grade if you need to,” Rubio said.

All seniors must remain enrolled until June 5, 2020 to graduate and may not drop any current courses. Students must still fulfill the University of California/California State University A-G college entrance requirements if they wish to be accepted to the respective universities, but those already accepted to a university for the fall 2020 semester will not be negatively affected.

“We’re asking, ‘don’t drop [a class]’, because we want to make sure that as of the time of [school closures], you get credit for it. If you are in a course and enrolled, you’re going to get credit for it regardless of where you were in terms of completion,” Rubio said.

The plan applies to all students enrolled in the Learning Center, Palomar and Independent Studies but those on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) must only meet the requirements established by their IEP team.

“The idea is that when this is all done—hopefully at some point soon—everybody can continue to move forward. That’s the idea. We want to make sure we’re still moving forward,” Rubio said.