DOE looking to modify high school graduation requirements

The state Department of Education is seeking approval to modify high school graduation and commencement requirements for the Class of 2020.

The memo submitted Friday to the Board of Education seeks flexibility in awarding a diploma or certificate to graduating seniors, based on approval from individual school administrations. There are approximately 10,000 students who are eligible to earn diplomas this year, according to a press release from the Department of Education.

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School facilities have been closed to students since March 19, with traditional, in-school instruction temporarily discontinued until at least April 30.

Approval of the proposed waiver will provide educator-driven solutions to address the loss of educational content as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis, the department said. This action will allow class of 2020 graduates to proceed with post-secondary educational and workforce opportunities without unnecessary delays.

The department also determined it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make a decision by April 15 regarding commencement ceremonies. School, complex area and state teams have started discussing alternative means of celebration in the event traditional ceremonies cannot be held.

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“The decision around celebrating this milestone with our seniors is an emotional one as most students have looked forward to this occasion since they were in elementary school. However, the safety and health of our community is paramount and we are basing our decisions on guidance from health and state officials in the coming weeks,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “Our request to the Board for a one-time policy waiver is a critical step in our efforts to adjust the remainder of the school year for our public and charter schools. Once we receive approval from the Board, we can formally issue guidance for meeting graduation requirements that has been developed.”

In addition to graduation requirements, the department’s planning includes its request to the U.S. Department of Education to waive standardized testing and associated accountability and reporting requirements for the 2019-20 school year. The request was approved by the USDOE last week, however, the public can submit comments until April 10 online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HIsy1920StandardizedTestingWaiver.

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