The graduation requirements are consistent with the new competencies students are expected to achieve. A competency is a measurable, observable demonstration of something a student knows and is able to do. In Douglas County School District, students are expected to achieve these competencies at high levels.
Until the graduating class of 2002, our education system has not been based on students achieving a set of competencies. The school district’s Strategic Plan is transforming our schools from a time-based to a competency-based system. Under the time-based system, the quality and level of a student’s education was determined by the amount of time that students spent in school and the number of credits earned. Students could earn a diploma with a D- grade average of they took the required classes.
Under a competency-based system, the knowledge and skills the student can demonstrate measure a student’s learning. Students must demonstrate they have achieved specific competencies at high levels of academic performance in this type of system.
In order to graduate from Douglas County School District, students must earn a minimum of 23 credits and get at least a D- in each class. These criteria measure the number of courses students take. They do not necessarily measure what students understand and whether they can apply important knowledge and skills taught in the classes. In addition, students must pass the Nevada State Proficiency Examinations.
A graduation requirement reflects the competency-based system. It does not change, but adds to the current graduation requirements. Beginning with the graduating class of 2002 (9th graders in Fall 1998), students still must earn a minimum of 23 credits, get at least a passing grade in each class, and pass the Nevada State Proficiency Examinations. In addition, student must now demonstrate that they understand and apply important knowledge and skills. It raises the expectations we have of our students. Students will be required to achieve competence in communications (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), foreign language, mathematics, science, social science, technology, and employability*. Teachers will use assessments developed to measure the new competencies to determine whether students achieve the seven graduation competencies.
Students and parents will receive ongoing information about student progress toward meeting district competencies. The most definitive feedback about student progress on many competencies will come from the Achievement Level Tests at grades 3 through 9. In addition, classroom assessments, such as research projects and other assignments, will provide periodic information on progress. Parents should check with their child’s school to learn more about how it plans to keep parents informed of their child’s performance on district competencies.
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