To begin, they [high school faculty] design a set of culminating exams, projects, or requirements that students must accomplish successfully for their program of study to be considered complete. These activities are discipline specific, or if integrated, have standards for each of the disciplines that a project addresses. These culminating projects or demonstrations integrate the content knowledge expected from students who are prepared to enter college with the thinking skills and habits of mind that will be required of them shortly. The projects require the personal characteristics, such as independent work, initiative, sustained effort, inquisitiveness, and attention to detail and quality, that will serve students well in the postsecondary environment. (p. 76)
The more I think about this, the more problems I have with graduation requirements that are - in the end - more about seat time and attendance than about learning. Yes, the majority of our students do learn a fair amount in our classes that are required for graduation, but I don't think that's sufficient. If we want students that not only have content knowledge, but personal characteristics such as "independent work, initiative, sustained effort, inquisitiveness, and attention to detail and quality," do our current graduation requirements actually "require" any of that from them?
To graduate from AHS you have to have 35 credits of english, 30 credits in social sciences, 4 semesters of math, 4 semesters of science, 6 credits of fine arts, 6 credits of practical arts, 12 credits of PE, and enough electives to total 188 credits. Nowhere does it say you actually have to know or be able to do anything. Shouldn't we expect that of our students - and ourselves? And shouldn't we have some way for them to demonstrate what they know and are able to do?