“School choice is a hot topic that’s only getting hotter and I think that public schools actually can play a part in giving people more choice,” Cullen said during her president’s report, where she also showed a chart of Pennridge’s current proposed and graduation requirements, other local district requirements, and the state requirements.
“There are some things I think the state could help us with,” Cullen said. “We’re doing a lot on our end to give people flexibility, but we’re kind of at the point where I think we need the state to help us in giving families more choices in their education.”
Under the proposed Pennridge new graduation requirements, students would be required to have 1.5 health and physical education credits and four social studies credits. The state sets its minimum requirements at 1 health and phys ed credit and 3 social studies credits.
Later in the meeting during discussion of the proposed changes to the district’s graduation requirements policy, Cullen said she wants to talk with the state about its requirements.
“They require four English, they require only three social studies and only three science and math,” Cullen said, “so maybe there’s a conversation to be had on the state’s end.”
Pennridge’s current graduation requirements are four credits in English; three credits in each of mathematics and science; three credits in social studies, plus one humanities elective must be in social studies; two credits in wellness, physical education or health; 0.5 credits in creative and performing arts electives; 1.5 credits in humanities electives; and seven credits in general electives.
The proposed new requirements keep the English requirement at four credits; start a new seven credit requirement in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) education, with the seven credits being three in science, three in math and one a choice of creative arts, technology or an additional math or science; four credits in social studies; 1.5 credits in wellness or physical education; and 7.5 electives including classes in creative arts, music, world language, business, health/physical education or other academic courses. The plans also add a required 0.5 credit personal finance credit, which could be taken as an elective in either math or business.
The state requirements are four credits in English; three each in math, science and social studies; two in arts or humanities; one in health and physical education; and five electives in courses approved for graduation. The state minimum total credits to graduate is 21; Pennridge’s minimum is 24, with the average credits actually earned by graduates averaging 26.25.
During discussion at the May 9 meeting of the proposed revisions to the district’s graduation requirements policy, two board members reiterated their concerns, which had been previously raised during committee discussions, of the changes. The policy does not specifically list the requirements, but is tied to documents that do.