Sierra High reduces graduation requirements |

Sierra High reduces graduation requirements

Renee Shadforth

Students at Sierra High School will have the option to graduate with reduced credits in English and math starting next school year.

In a four-to-one vote last week, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board gave Sierra High School the go-ahead to remove 10 units of both math and English from its graduation requirements. Trustee Daniel Collin voted against the modified requirements.

“I think we’re cheapening our diploma,” Collin said. He added was “totally against” offering a diploma with reduced credits.

However, school officials say the change will allow more students to graduate with a diploma from an accredited school, increase ADA (average daily attendance) funding and provide a safety net for students, especially English learners.

The changed requirements, called “Option B,” will mock the California’s minimum mandate of 30 credits in English and 20 in math – which is among the lowest state minimum requirements in the nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Jane Loomis, principal at the alternative high school, asked the school board to adopt Option B because Sierra High enrolls students from other districts where only the minimum requirements are necessary, she wrote in a memo to the school board.

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“Depending on when they enroll, it is almost impossible for them to meet our standards,” wrote Loomis, who could not be reached for comment. “Therefore, the only option available to them is an adult diploma or (general equivalency diploma).”

When students opt for adult school, they don’t qualify for federal financial aid or the military. Furthermore, students in adult school only generate half the ADA of students enrolled in Sierra High.

The change in requirements, Loomis said, will also allow Sierra High to compete with Prosser Creek Charter School, which offers a general studies diploma with minimum state requirements in addition to a college preparatory diploma.

“I have had students leave our system to go to Prosser to graduate instead of enrolling into our adult program because of their plan B,” Loomis wrote.

With Option B, students will still need 200 credits to graduate; the remaining 20 credits taken from English and math will be added to the number of electives students need to graduate.

Students opting to take the original number of credits in English and math -or Option A – will receive a golden seal on their diplomas.