Students: New Grad Requirements Off the Mark

By: Jason Colthorp Email
By: Jason Colthorp Email

Michigan's new high school graduation requirements are not popular with the students. They think they're too tough and not right for everyone.

About 1,600 students across the state discussed the new tougher graduation requirements and a task force of 22 students put together a report of recommendations. Three of the Michigan Youth in Government students presented the report and testified before the House of Representatives Education Committee Tuesday in Lansing.

Basically, they think different students should have different paths to a diploma. Moreover, if the new requirements stick, it will dramatically increase dropout rates among high school students.


The Task Force also came up with specific amendments to the requirements.

They want to create a pathway system for different types of students who must take the following classes in addition to the classes required by their pathway:

[Math (2 credits) - Algebra 1; Geometry]
[English (3 credits) - Verbal, Written & Electronic Communication (1 credit); Two additional credits]
[Science (2 credits) - Biology or Chemistry (1 credit each); Physics or Earth Science (1 credit each)]
[Social Science (2 credits) - U.S. History (1 credit); Civics (half credit); Economics (half credit)]
[Foreign Language (2 credits)]
[Fine Arts (1 credit)]
[On-line Learning Experience (1 credit)]
[Health (half credit)]

The pathways are laid out for four different types of students.
The first is those who are preparing for a job immediately after high school. These are the additional credits required for the "Career Preparatory Pathway:"

[Math (1 additional credit) - Consumer Math (1 credit)]
[English (2 additional credits) - Technical Writing (1 credit)]
[Science (1 additional credit) - Career Applied Science (1 credit)]
[Career Program (at least 3 credits for 2 consecutive years) - i.e. education for employment, career center, job cooperative, professional internship]

The "Higher Education Preparatory Pathway" is for those who are planning to go to college. They need:

[Academic Courses (8 additional credits) - Interpersonal Communication (1 credit); Seven additional Math, English, Science, or Social Science credits]

Students who choose the "Fine Arts Education Preparatory Pathway" need these classes:

[Math - Consumer Math (1 credit); Algebra II or higher (1 credit); One additional credit]
[English - One additional credit]
[Fine Arts Theory (2 credits) - i.e. Music Theory, Art History, etc.]
[Fine Arts Application (3 additional credits) - i.e. Painting, Sculpture, Choir, Band, Orchestra, etc.]

The "Special Needs Pathway" states the opinion that special needs students will hardly ever be able to pass all of the same grade level requirements. With that in mind, three recommendations include having flexibility for these students and creating a committee of those involved in these students' lives to make decisions and set individual graduation requirements.


Overall, the Task Force feels simply toughening requirements will allow too many students to fall through the cracks.

"The only requirement for us and the current juniors is one semester of civics," said East Grand Rapids Senior Sam Wohns, one of today's presenters. "They've gone from that to the toughest standards in the country."

He feels one blanket set of requirements will only cover a few students.

"It would be similar to requiring every student to run a six-minute mile to graduate high school."

The Student Task Force hopes today's meeting will lead to more meetings with lawmakers and ultimately the Governor signing their ideas into law.

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  • by Laura Location: Michigan on Sep 17, 2008 at 05:02 AM
    I think this is great. Highschool should be split in 11th grade. Students studying sciences, medicine, nursing, etc should have tougher math and science requirements and not as many "art history requirements". Students studying math, engineering, etc in college should have way tougher math and physics requirements. Students going to humanities, journalism, etc should have a lot more writing, philosophy, etc. This will prepare each individual for their chosen path in college. It will also allow for students to make a decision sooner as to what they would like to go to school for, if they can't decide which career, they can choose a path based on the subjects they would learn in class and by the time they are seniors in highschool they will have a better idea on which career would be good for them. The way school is right now makes for a lot of freshman in college to not know what they want to major on.
  • by Matt Location: Ingham Cty on Sep 16, 2008 at 06:26 PM
    Oh boo hoo hoo, the graduation requirements are "so hard". I am a senior, and at my school we are required to have 3 math credits (Algebra I & II, Geometry), 3 social studies credits (World History, US History, Government), 4 English credits (English foundations, US Lit, English Lit, World Lit), 3 science credits (Physical science, Chemistry, Biology), 1 fine art, 1/2 each speech, health, computers, physical education, 4 elective credits, and 4 years of theology. Beginning with the class of 2010, students have to take 4 years of math (Alg. I & II, Geometry, Trigonometry), 4 science credits (Physical science, chemistry, biology, physics or anatomy), 4 years theology, 3.5 social studies credits (World History, US history, Government, economics), 4 years of English, and 4 elective credits. Boo hoo hoo, the students can't do it? Yes, they can, if they would actually try. Our graduation rate is 98%--meaning nearly every single student meets these graduation requirements. It's not hard!
  • by Gloria Location: Michigan on Sep 16, 2008 at 05:56 PM
    Way to go students!! As a special education teacher I can say you are right on! Hopefully, the government will listen to you, as it has failed to do with the teachers - and then no child truly will be 'left behind'
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