A requirement for students graduating from to demonstrate functional literacy at a 10th grade level made it through the Board of Education’s Policy Committee on Tuesday evening after it was initially voted down.
The Board of Education, which and have the committee work on it, will again vote on the matter. The standard would require students to demonstrate 10th grade level competent literacy in reading and writing to receive a diploma. Students may demonstrate this proficiency by achieving goal on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, and accommodations may be made for special education students based on their Individual Education Plan as well as students considered English Language Learners.
The policy also allows students to have free access to academic resources such as high school and adult education courses as well as online programs to work toward the literacy requirement up to the age of 21. Students must currently meet several requirements for graduation, including achieving 23 academic credits in various areas and completing 10 hours of community service. Dr. Nicholas Fischer, superintendent of schools, said the literacy requirement resulted in a minor change to the other graduation requirements. Teachers conducting district performance tasks to assess the work of students must now only do so in mathematics rather than English and mathematics, as the English requirement will be covered by the literacy standard.
Fischer said the curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade is being revised to reflect the new standard. He said the literacy requirement will strengthen both the value of the diploma and the impact of the education.
When the vote was taken on the policy, chairman Alvin Kinsall was for the measure but committee members Jason Catala and Susan Connolly voted against it. Connolly said she wasn’t opposed to the requirement, but was also concerned that the school’s credit requirements are less than the state average and those in the . She said she felt revisions to the graduation requirements should be done in line with changes to the credit number.
“If we’re going to look at increasing the credits or aligning with whatever else the state has in store for us, I want to do it all at once,” said Connolly.
Connolly withdrew her opposition after Fischer said the state would not be putting any credit changes in place in the coming school year, whose incoming freshmen will be the first who must pass the literacy requirement. Fischer said Wednesday morning that new state course standards are not set to be required until 2020. Catala remained opposed to reconsideration of the vote, saying he was worried that some hardworking but struggling students would be shut out.
“I’m very concerned for the student who gets C’s and D’s, and is not a special ed student, and may not be able to pass that until they’re 21,” he said.
On the reconsidered vote, Connolly and Kinsall voted in favor of referring the updated graduation requirements to the full Board of Education while Catala was opposed.