How will Arizona high school seniors graduate?
State Board of Education to consider minimum course of study and competency requirements
VERDE VALLEY — Verde Valley’s school superintendents will likely meet over the next few days to discuss Monday’s announcement by Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman that the state’s schools will remain closed through the end of the school year.
But Clarkdale-Jerome School District Superintendent Danny Brown said he’s not yet sure what the cancellation of school means to students’ grades — or what it means to the advancement of students from one grade to the next.
“These are discussions we would all have in the next few days,” Brown said. “The way I understand things, will school closures affect promotions? The answer is ‘no.’”
But the state’s Board of Education, he said, “will need to provide clarity around high school graduation requirements.”
At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the state’s Board of Education will consider adopting minimum course of study requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.
According to Mingus Union Superintendent Mike Westcott, the details of those discussions “are hard to know.”
“What I hope is that there is a grace period to identify students without the grades to advance and the time to get them to that point,” Westcott said.
The agenda for the state’s Board of Education, which includes instructions to watch the meeting live, is at azsbe.az.gov.
Friday, Ducey passed legislation meant to support schools, teachers and families during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to HB 2910, public schools in the state are not required to extend the number of school days or add additional instructional hours to make up for the days missed after the statewide closure ends.
Whether students will have spent enough time in class enough to advance to the next grade, or graduate from high school, is still not clear. But high schools holding graduation ceremonies as scheduled, Mingus Union Superintendent Mike Westcott said, is not very likely.
“In our thinking, the closure of the high school year means all planned events are canceled,” Westcott said. “As of now, we can only conclude the ceremony will be canceled. But we hope that things will change so we can do it at a slightly different date.”
Accessible, meaningful, educational activities
Although the state’s schools are closed, educators aren’t still meeting the needs of their district’s students.
That’s what Cottonwood-Oak Creek Superintendent Steve King wrote to his district’s families shortly after the governor’s announcement.
“We have been planning accordingly these past two weeks and are ready to continue your child’s education remotely,” King wrote.
Since Ducey mandated a two-week school closure effective March 16, Verde Valley schools have provided educational opportunities to their students.
With online learning platforms, as well as schools providing study packets for their students, school hasn’t actually stopped, King said. Learning has continued at home.
Monday, Cottonwood-Oak Creek updated its remote learning platform, developed by the district to provide “accessible meaningful and educational activities” for families to use together,” King wrote.
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