PAUSD Board expresses support for revising graduation requirements

Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) board members discussed a proposal to align district graduation requirement with state college entry requirements at its Tuesday night meeting. The Board expressed universal support for the plan, on which it will vote in two weeks.

Under the current proposal, which was first brought before the Board nearly a year ago in May 2011, members of the high school class of 2016 will have to meet revised graduation requirements, such as taking 20 units of a world language, an additional 10 units of math and 20 units of lab science instead of general science.

According to Board minutes, the original goals of this plan were to have at least 85 percent of PAUSD high school graduates complete an A-G curriculum — the entry requirements for the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems — and to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who meet these requirements by 50 percent or more.

In January 2012, PAUSD Superintendent Kevin Skelly suggested a change to the proposal, which would give students the choice to create “alternative graduation requirements” with the help of parents and school officials. This option, intended for students who cannot or prefer not to meet the A-G requirements, is included in the current plan.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Skelly read a letter of support for the proposal from a former student, according to a Palo Alto Online article.

“I did not choose wisely as my parents were not involved back then,” the letter read. “If I had been forced to fulfill the language requirements back then it would have helped me in college and in life.”

In an interview with The Daily in January, Skelly argued that many students in high school do not realize this and often “take the path of least resistance” if not pushed by the District.

All five board members publicly supported the proposal at the meeting. The final vote will take place on May 22.

– Kurt Chirbas