Janesville schools retool graduation requirements

Educators hope to better prepare students for college, careers
Janesville schools retool graduation requirements

Janesville School District leaders are retooling the school day and graduation requirements to give students a competitive edge outside the classroom. The initiative is called Project Redesign.

Right now Janesville students only need 22.5 credits to graduate from high school. Students in seventh grade this year will be required to earn 26.5 credits during their high school stints to get a diploma.

Craig High School’s principal, Dr. Alison Bjoin, is one of many who helped design the district’s new graduation requirements.

“This whole initiative is about making sure that our students leave Craig and Parker high schools ready to compete,” Bjoin said.

The school will be adding credits in four core areas: science, math, social studies and English. Bjoin said Project Redesign is about giving students the skills to compete after high school.

“[They’ll be] able to compete in college, in the military, in [careers],” Bjoin said. “Making sure students get additional credits in those core areas is going to help them on that path.”

The additional credit requirements will be phased in starting in 2014.

Students will also take a freshmen seminar, so they can learn time management skills, and a personal finance class. To accommodate additional instruction time they will move from seven periods a day to eight and start school 15 minutes earlier.

The students’ lunch period will also be shortened by 5 minutes.

But there are a number of policies that have to go to the board of education for revision to make the plan a reality.

The schools’ director of curriculum, Kim Ehrhardt, said beginning this summer and throughout the school year, school leaders will be taking the necessary steps for full implementation in 2014-15.

“I think it’s dumb,” Craig High School junior Kaitlyn Sheldon said.

VIDEO: Janesville schools retool graduation requirements

She said for some Craig students struggling with the current requirements, the thought of adding credits could have the opposite effect and keep them out of college.

“A lot of people are already having problems with credits, so it’s just going to make it harder,” fellow Craig junior Colleen Kinzie agreed. “It’s just like more work you know. I just feel like they’re adding work but I don’t think it’s going to help.”

The district is meeting with parents tonight at 6:30 at Craig High School.

They also have information about the redesign plans on the website under the parents section.

After the Board of Education makes the necessary changes, it also has to notify the Department of Public Instruction.