This was an idea that was overwhelmingly vetoed by parents when it was raised several years ago, but the School Board chose to only delay the start date rather than reject the idea completely as parents requested. (see article below)
Publication Date: Friday, June 24, 2005
Parents put brakes on new senior project
But graduation requirement regains momentum for Class of 2010
by Rebecca Guyon
Implementation of a senior project that would be required for high school graduation was push backed by the Board of Trustees in a unanimous vote Tuesday night. The requirement, originally scheduled to begin with the Class of 2007, will be fully implemented when the incoming eighth grade class enters their senior year in 2010. The Board voted on this extension after listening to a litany of parent objections mostly centered on concerns that the additional requirement is unnecessary and that parents and students were not involved in its creation or aware of its fast approach.
"When I first saw (the senior project) my first reaction was this is redundant," said Amador Valley High School parent Theresa Morgan. "My view is that the curriculum at our high school is so excellent, it already gives students necessary skills."
Although many parents at the meeting wanted the senior project not to be implemented at all, the Trustees agreed that they would not overturn the decision saying they saw value in the project and were mostly concerned that it was not ready for 2007. There was disagreement about whether the project should be made mandatory even at the 2010 deadline with Trustee Steve Pulido saying he would like the Board to revisit the possibility of making the project voluntary at a later meeting.
The senior project would require students to explore an area of interest by developing an "essential question" and then seeking the answer through an activity. The activity could range from an internship to building an object to rehearsing a dramatic piece, according to director of career preparation and apprenticeship programs Steve Dellanini. Students then would be required to write a 400 word reflective essay and give a 10 to 15 minute presentation where they would turn in a portfolio that catalogs their project and includes a current resume.
"The project includes writing a current resume because nowhere in our program can we assure that all students are putting together a resume, which is an appropriate skill," Dellanini said.
The new timeline for implementation begins this year with the development of curriculum for the senior project elective class that will be offered in the 2006-2007 school year for interested students. Parents will have the opportunity to be on the curriculum committee, something that was missing from the first committee that worked on designing the project. The curriculum will be refined based on parent and student response between 2007-2009 and will be readied as a requirement in 2009-2010. The Class of 2010 will receive information regarding the senior project and its requirement this year in their eighth grade orientation packets. Students who complete the senior project as an elective prior to its being made a requirement will have it noted on their transcript.
"I dream of the day when kids are saying, 'I get to do a senior project,'" said Trustee Kris Weaver. "By implementing it as an elective first, students will see other students do it and that will be the buy-in."
The senior project was first proposed and passed by the Board of Trustees in 2003. The idea came up when the district was required by the state to impose a graduation exit exam and make three years of math a graduation requirement, said Assistant Superintendent of educational services Cindy Galbo. The Trustees decided to take that opportunity to look at creating a senior project to ensure students were graduating from the district with appropriate skills to get by in the "real world," such as time management, conducting research, writing papers and making presentations.
"It's important that we have a standard for all students in the district and for us to make sure that all students are systematically getting those benefits," said Superintendent John Casey.