Changing Face of Graduation

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Senate Bill 30-A and House Bill 47-A are changing the face of graduation, and for some kids, it could mean skipping the gap and gown gala.

Thursday night, hundreds of Chiles High School seniors made the step from student to alumni, marking a milestone that took for most four years and 24 credits, but that could be a thing of the past with the passage of a new law.

Starting with the 2003-2004 school year, students have three options, a regular high school diploma which equals 24 credits, completion of a college prep program of 18 credits, and finally, completion of a career prep program also worth 18 credits.

"One of my concerns is that we've already hired most of our teachers for next year based on the assumption that all of our seniors will be taking a full load," says Leon County Schools Superintendent, Bill Montford.

But Superintendent Montford doesn't see it having a huge impact on the overall student population.

“School leaders are confidant students will take the classes they've signed up for, especially those students who are college bound."

The real concern is that the new law will have a negative impact on the districts elective programs.

"Simply put, if students graduate with less credits, that means less classes and those classes will have to be elective classes the child elects not to take," Montford adds.

Choosing the path to graduation is not a decision students will make on their own. School officials say the new law is not likely to increase the number of students to go the college prep route with only one elective in 3 years and the option for dual enrollment already in place.