“What I heard (Tuesday) night was comforting, especially when you start to get the high school principal’s perspective involved,” said Ward 5’s Stuart Fleming.
The board unanimously agreed to wait a month on an official decision to reduce the number of credits required to graduate from 26 to 23. They will vote on the policy change in June.
The Marietta City Schools administration is making the recommendation so that the city district will align with other Georgia districts and the state for how many credits are needed to graduate.
Marietta Superintendent Emily Lembeck also said students will be provided with further flexibility to craft their pathways to graduation and college and career readiness.
This recommendation was not initially received well by all board members.
Fleming and Brett Bittner, who represents Ward 1, both questioned how the perception of what appears be lowering the standards might look to the public, and more importantly parents.
“I think that if we’re able to communicate the reasons why, the different offerings … for the most part, I think people will be OK with the idea if they take the time to really see the reasoning behind it,” Bittner said.
“It was a good debate, and I am supportive of this now, but it will be really challenging for the common person to understand,” he said.
Colburn said she was not originally expected to address the board during Tuesday night’s meeting about this policy change, but was called in after receiving word from the district staff that her assistance would be helpful.
She said this change has been on the table for about five or six years.
“We would not have done it five or six years ago because matching the state’s requirements would lower where we would want to be,” she said. “We feel more confident that it’s the right thing to do with regards to the requirements now.”
The last time the credit reduction was recommended, she objected to the change before the board.
Right now, every grade level has a different number of credits required to graduate, from 23 to 26.
This change would put every student on the same page and align the graduation tracks. Colburn also told the board that it would help counselors with better preparing their students for graduation.
“I remind everyone, don’t get caught in the number, get caught up in what the student is taking,” she said. “What they are taking is more rigorous now than what they were taking three years ago.”
Students are still required to earn four credits in English/language arts, math and science and health and PE.
Changes include reducing the requirement for social studies by half a credit, getting rid of the technology credit, dropping the International Baccalaureate and elective requirements by half a credit and reducing the Career, technology and agricultural education/modern languages/Latin/fine arts credit by one.
Colburn said the Social Studies change will allow freshmen to take American Government their freshman year as opposed to Global Humanities.
Technology is being changed because the class is now embedded into the core content classes. Teachers in these classes will now teach in other areas. No one is being fired.
A student still has the opportunity to earn up to 32 credits all four years at Marietta High and the minimum for an IB student will continue to be 28 credits.
“It’s certainly not going to hurt our kids. It’s going to help out kids,” Colburn said. “I don’t know of any kids who didn’t graduate last year because they had 23 but didn’t have electives. When kids don’t walk across the stage, it’s because they fell short in a core content area.”
She also said the district’s graduation rate, which is a goal outlined in its newly developed strategic plan, has nothing to do with the recommended change.