School & District Management

S.F. Board Abandons Tough Rules On Credits Needed To Graduate

By Robert C. Johnston — November 01, 2000 2 min read

With one-third of the city’s high school seniors unable to meet new graduation requirements, the San Francisco school board rolled back tougher standards last week.

The new requirements, put in place in 1997, were to have taken effect next spring.

Board members, who voted 6-0 for the changes Oct. 10, took responsibility for failing to provide an adequate number of tutors and teachers, more class time, and other resources to help district students meet the higher credit load.

The board decided, instead, that members of the class of 2001 would have to earn 220 academic credits, not the 240 credits that had been mandated three years ago.

“We should not be surprised about this,” Jill Wynns, a school board member, said last week. “We made a decision to do something without having the money to do it fully.”

The relaxed policy also allows students to graduate with one less credit in mathematics, science, foreign languages, and performing arts than under the 1997 policy. The board had raised the credit requirement that year in an effort to force students to drop electives and take more courses in core academic areas.

In presenting the revised graduation standards, San Francisco’s first-year superintendent, Arlene Ackerman, said that some 1,120 seniors would not have been able to graduate without the change.

Ms. Ackerman will present a revised plan for graduation requirements to the board early next year.

Not Enough Planning

Across the country, school districts could face similar dilemmas when their new high-stakes improvement measures clash with the reality of large numbers of students who fail to hit the mark.

“I think there is a kind of enthusiastic embrace of raising the bar higher without enough planning,” Ms. Wynns said.

In the case of the 60,000-student San Francisco district, schools have lacked enough counselors to help students track their progress toward the 240 credits, officials agreed.

The district also failed to follow through on plans to add an additional period to the high school day— making it harder for students to earn more credits. And when students failed classes, it was nearly impossible for them to catch up without attending school outside regular hours.

Moreover, many of this year’s seniors who were coming up short had failed their required third year of mathematics, which was a high- level algebra class—one of the most difficult to staff with well-qualified teachers.

Ms. Wynns said she was hopeful, however, that reform-minded school districts elsewhere were doing a better job of planning and finding ways to support their higher demands of students.

“The hallmark of the previous [San Francisco] administration was no planning. You just did it,” she said. “I don’t think it’s as bad in other places.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion COVID-19 Ripped Through Our Emotional Safety Net. Here’s How My District Responded
Three years after overhauling its approach to student mental health, one California district found itself facing a new crisis.
Jonathan Cooper
2 min read
A young man stands under a street light on a lonely road.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion Students Need Better Connections. To Wi-Fi, Yes, But Also to Teachers
We have to fix our digital divide, but let’s not lose sight of the relationship divide, writes one superintendent.
Susan Enfield
2 min read
A teacher checks in on a remote student.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion Superintendents Have Weathered a Lot of Vitriol This Year. What Have We Learned?
The pandemic turned district leaders into pioneers, writes one superintendent. We had to band together to make it through.
Matthew Montgomery
2 min read
A person walks from a vast empty space towards a team of people.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion Critics Complain My District Doesn’t Really Need Relief Aid. If They Only Knew…
District expenditures have ballooned in the pandemic, but many critics expect the opposite. How can leaders set the record straight?
Theresa Rouse
2 min read
A business person convinces colleagues by presenting a plan.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images