Marietta eyes fewer credits for graduation
by Lindsay Field
May 17, 2013 12:34 AM | 2790 views | 14 14 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — A thorough explanation by Marietta High School principal Leigh Colburn eased two board members’ minds after learning that the district is recommending a reduction in required graduation credits.

“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.

Fleming agreed.

“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.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 25, 2013
Leigh Colburn is a self motivated liar. If she says it it's not motivated by graduation rates or performance evaluations, I would tend to believe otherwise. How is easing the requirements beneficial for students in the long run? It is not. It does, however, allow her to pass along kids that are not ready to enter either college or the work force.
Change is good
May 20, 2013
The High School principal would be a better choice for Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction. She has experience in both Elementary and High School level education. Leigh Colborne, an established administrator with a proven track record, would make a positive change to the Marietta City Schools in this role.
MCS does it right
May 17, 2013
This article to me isnt really about the graduation credit, its about a system that is doing it right. Its refreshing to see a central office that works with and trusts their principal and a school board that does as well. In too many districts, time is spent in-fighting and endlessly debating matters that make no real difference in the classroom or to students. It is a great to see a system where the principal's opinion is of primary importance. Here you have a great example of a functional board focused on what really matters and listening to those who do the work - and those who do the work are also trusted by the central office to do their jobs. The real "gold" in the Marietta Difference is that everyone is working together - really, really nice to see when compared to other districts.
Dumb Is As Dumb Does
May 20, 2013
@"MCS does it right": How "kumbaya" of you. However, you fail to address the fact that these students will still "graduate" from school without even the minimal abilities/knowledge needed to survive in today's (real) world!

Fact is: You should focus less about "how people are getting along" and more about giving students a complete education!
Dumb Is As Dumb Does
May 17, 2013
How bout these requirements for graduation:

1. Legal Citizen.

2. Can Speak English.

3. Can Speak In Complete Sentences.

4. Can Add 2 2 And Have It Equal 4.

5. Know Identity Of Mother/Father Of Their Baby.

6. Married To Mother/Father Of Their Baby.

Ah, isn't today's youth a wonderment?
One more thing...
May 17, 2013
No sagging pants or head phones on during graduation
Edwin F. Gibbs
May 17, 2013
Just another way of dumbing down the kids of today.
May 18, 2013
Edwin- the only dummy is YOU! Did you read the article??
Hobnail Boot
May 17, 2013
"It was a good debate, and I am supportive of this now, but it will be really challenging for the common person to understand.”

Thanks Mr. Flemming. Us common folk are blessed to have someone as intellectually astute as you making these decisions about issues that we aren't smart enough to understand.

Trust 2
May 17, 2013
Colburn is correct, 23 or 26...They are either ready to go to college or they aren't.

To Mr. Fleming - Colburn's perpective and opinion is worth far more than yours. Take notes.
BOE observer
May 17, 2013
Its always the best practice for the BOE to hear directly from principals regarding how proposed changes will impact their schools and their students. MCS wisely allows this type of interaction and it benefits all. Its a shame so many other districts do not allow this type of exchange. Kudos to MCS.
May 17, 2013
Marietta City is not the only school system facing this same delimma. Cobb Cty, namely R.L. Osborne and Pebblebrook will be facing the same situation. All three of these schools have a high ratio of blackand hispanic students, and it's just a fact thatas a whole these two groups do not fair well education wiscts are facts test scores bear this fact out. If Marietta wants to graduate this part of society than lowering the rquirements will be necessary.
May 18, 2013
It's economics, not skin color. DO a little research. Poor whites do just as poorly, if not worse in some areas of the country.

Cobb Schools
May 18, 2013
It has nothing to do with a school's demographics - MCS is conforming to the state regs. All Cobb schools require 23 credits for graduation and they have for years. The minimal requirements for graduation are no different at Walton than the are at Osborne or Pebblebrook.
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