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Poudre School District considering changes to graduation requirements

Under the proposal, the total credits needed to walk the stage would remain the same.
PSD grad changes.png
Posted at 1:44 PM, Mar 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-01 15:44:31-05

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The requirements that some high school students need to graduate could be changing for one Northern Colorado school district.

While the total credit hours needed to walk the stage would stay at 240, Poudre School District is considering changes to its graduation requirements to offer students more flexibility in their education.

But not everyone is on board with the proposed changes that would impact the Class of 2026.

"I think that choice is great, but 14-year-olds don't always know what's best for them and their future," Jessica Stelzer, a teacher in Poudre schools, said.

The biggest and most controversial change impacts physical education, fine arts and world language. Under the proposal, those classes will no longer be required.

If adopted, the district said students will be able to choose which of those core electives they'd like to take from that bucket, as long as they have 20 credits by graduation.

While the district argued the changes allow for more career exploration and work-based learning opportunities, former Poudre schools P.E. teacher Lisa McVicker worries removing wellness as a requirement does a disservice to students.

McVicker said she interacted with a number of students during her career who were only in P.E. because it was required.

But they "left saying, 'I'm so glad I had this experience, I loved it, I learned new things", McVicker explained.

Core classes like language arts, math, science and the district's unique financial literacy class will remain unchanged. Although, students will now have to take world history, which will align with an upcoming state requirement. The once-required humanities and economics courses would shift to recommended under this proposal.

Currently, 65 elective credits are required for graduation. That would increase to 85 under the new plan.

A spokesperson for Poudre School District made it clear these changes aren't about making budget cuts.

But McVicker said she's worried about a trickle-down effect.

"If those classes aren't being enrolled in because they're not required, the staffing will go down," McVicker said.

The district's board of education will hold a second and final reading of the proposed graduation changes on April 9.

If adopted, they would impact current sophomores - or the Class of 2026.

Poudre School District considering changes to graduation requirements