The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Fleetwood Area School District Report: By Dr. Paul Eaken Changes in graduation requirements provide flexibility in student schedules


By Dr. Paul Eaken, Superintendent

Sunday, March 2, 2014

In January, the Board of School Directors approved changes in Fleetwood’s graduation requirements. These changes will provide flexibility in students’ schedules so that they may receive additional instruction in areas of weakness and will have greater choice in their electives.

The changes in Fleetwood’s graduation requirements were prompted by revisions in the state’s requirements for students graduating from Pennsylvania’s high schools. In November of 2013, Pennsylvania approved revisions in Chapter 4: Academic Standards and Assessment. Chapter 4 requires that school districts implement the new Pennsylvania Core Standards in K-12 English/Language Arts and Math starting with the 2014-2015 school year.

The PA Core Standards provide guidance for a more focused and coherent curriculum which includes rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order skills. The English/Language Arts Standards are organized around five Standard Categories: Foundational Skills, Reading Informational Text, Reading Literature, Writing, Speaking and Listening. These standards were developed using the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards as a guide. (The College and Career Readiness Standards identify the reading and writing skills that students need in order to succeed in college and workforce training programs.)

The PA Common Core Standards in Math are organized into four Standard Categories: Numbers and Operations, Algebraic Concepts, Geometry and Measurement, and Data and Probability. In addition to the Standards of Mathematical Content, the core standards consist of eight Standards for Mathematical Practice. These standards describe the math skills required so that students will be able to use them in applied situations.

The implementation of these standards helps students develop independence, build strong content knowledge, be able to read and write for a variety of settings and contexts, understand what they read and develop their own opinions, and develop the math skills that will enable them to solve math problems in real life situations.

At the present time, Pennsylvania assesses high school students’ skills in Algebra 1, Biology, and English Literature. Students in the Class of 2017 (this year’s freshman class) are required to pass these assessments in order to obtain their high school diploma. The newly adopted Fleetwood graduation requirements will provide an opportunity for students to take additional courses in these three subject areas to help prepare them prepare for the Keystone Exams.

The new graduation requirements also provide students with more options when selecting their electives. Currently, nine quarter-credit courses are required for graduation. Two of the health courses will be combined into one half-credit course and independent living and job search will be combined into one half-credit course. By combining these into half-credit courses, students have more flexibility in their schedule to take these courses at different times during the school day. Three other required quarter-credit courses (general art, music appreciation, and family relationships) will be eliminated. In their place, students will be required to take one full credit in both the arts and humanities. The change continues to require students to study the arts and humanities but allows them more options to pursue studies in an area of interest. These changes were recommended after extensive discussion and input from the high school faculty.

We believe that the new graduation requirements will help meet the requirements of the new Pennsylvania Core Standards while providing students greater options for their elective courses.

Upcoming Events in the Fleetwood Area School District

March 7 – No school for elementary and middle school students for parent conferences

March 10 – Teacher In-Service, no school for students

March 21-22 – High School Musical The Music Man 7:00 p.m.

March 28-29 – 7th/8th Grade Musical Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. 7:00 p.m.

The Board of School Directors will meet on March 11th and 18th, both at 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Paul Eaken is superintendent for Fleetwood School District.