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Paynesville Press - February 1, 2006

What is required to graduate from PAHS?

By Michael Jacobson

With different federal, state, and local standards applying to high school graduation, PAHS students registering this week need to plan to fulfill all the requirements in order to graduate.

School throughout District #741 will let out early on Thursday and will not be held on Friday - see News Brief on page 1 for details - so parent-teacher conferences can be held at Paynesville Area Elementary School, at Paynesville Area Middle School, and at Paynesville Area High School.

For eighth graders at PAMS and 9-11 graders at PAHS, these conferences will also serve as registration for next year's classes. Registration is vitally important nowadays as students need to insure that their schedule meets all the requirements.

Currently, due to transitions between standards, each grade faces different requirements for graduation. A synopsis of the requirements for each grade follows.

12th Graders Seniors (the Class of 2006) do not need to register for next year, but they need 86 credits from PAHS to graduate as well as making sure that they have fulfilled all the Profiles of Learning, which are embedded in the PAHS courses. They also need to have passed the Basic Skills Tests in reading, math, and writing.

11th Graders Juniors (the Class of 2009) also need 86 credits to graduate, also need to fulfill the Profiles of Learning, and also need to pass the Basic Skills Tests.

This is the first class where some members took algebra as eighth graders, so a new calculus class is being planned for these students. This is planned to be offered for college credit at PAHS.

Due to a concern about the number of students with multiple study halls, juniors will need to register in at least six classes (unless they participate in an accredited school-to-work program or if they do peer mentoring). The school board has not made this official policy, due to concerns about the cost, but students will be asked to register in six classes to figure staffing needs.

10th Graders Sophomores (the Class of 2008) will need 90 credits to graduate from PAHS, due to a decision to increase the required credits a couple years ago. They also need to pass the Basic Skills Tests.

Instead of the Profile of Learning, sophomores need to pass the new state standards. These are fairly similar to the graduation requirements at PAHS; for instance, three years of science was already required by PAHS, four years of English was already required, etc.

The new state standards, though, will narrow some elective choices. In language arts (English), students will still take two years of English class as ninth graders and sophomores. As juniors and seniors, students used to be able to choose from a number of semester-long classes. Now, they will either have to take two years of Honors English, or they will need to choose to take three of these semester-long classes: Language and Composition, World Literature, American Literature, and Narrative and Descriptive Writing. For their fourth credit, they can take the final class or Elective Speech or Journalism.

Another change is in social studies, where the two-year course of American History in grades 9 and 10 has been revamped to include a year of geography. During this two-year course, implemented this year at PAHS, students will cover the American history standards and the geography standards.

As juniors and seniors, these state standards require that sophomores - and the grades following them - need to take semester-long classes in world history, economics, and government as well as one elective. PAHS already required Govern-ment for graduation, but it will add World History and Economics (with Economics also planned as a college-credit class).

The new state standards also required three years of science, though this did not require any additional classes since the high school already offers a four-year sequence of science classes: Introduction to Physical Science (IPS), biology, chemistray, and physics.

Sophomores will also be asked to register in at least six classes as juniors. (See above for explanation.)

9th Graders Ninth graders (the Class of 2009) also need 90 credits to graduate, also need to fulfill the state standards, and also need to pass the Basic Skills Tests.

8th Graders Eighth graders will need 90 credits for graduation and will also need to meet the new state standards.

Secondary principal Lorie Floura and counselor Jackie Campbell will be meeting with all eighth graders this week and sending information about graduation requirements home with them for their parents.

Eighth graders, however, will not take the Basics Skills Tests. They will take the Minnesota Comprehen-sive Assessments (MCAs) this year, as will all students grades 3-8 in late April and early May, but these are not required for graduation. Eighth graders, and following grades, will need to pass the MCAs II, which will debut next year with a grade 9 writing test. In addition to the writing, eighth graders (the Class of 2010) will need to pass the reading MCA II as tenth graders and the math MCA II as juniors.

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