Wake County school leaders said Thursday that they believe students in the school system are up for the challenge and that they expect the new requirements to help create new opportunities.
"Colleges want individuals who have satisfactory communication skills, who can problem solve, who can critically think, who can work in team settings," said Teresa Pierrie with the Wake County Public School System. "These new graduations standards give our students exposure to all those kind of skills."
The state Board of Education approved a framework for graduation standards in October 2004 and agreed last year that the standards would include demonstrating proficiency on five end-of course tests: Algebra 1, biology, English 1, civics and economics and U.S. history.
In years past, students did not have to pass these tests to graduate.
"If you raise the bar to a certain level of expectation and refuse to lower it, children will rise to the occasion -- and not only them, but their parents," said Randy Weddle, assistant principal at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School.
Under the new criteria, students in the class of 2010 must also create a graduation project that includes an eight-to-ten page research paper, the development of a consumer-type product, a portfolio, a public presentation to the community and basic literary requirements.
Students enrolled in grades 10 through 12 this fall will not be required to meet the new standards but will graduate under the guidelines in place when they entered high school.
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