Committee updates BHS graduation requirements

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BURRILLVILLE – The Burrillville School Committee has passed changes to the district’s graduation requirements that accommodate initiatives aimed at providing more “hands on” opportunity by offering students multiple ways to earn their diploma.

The new policy offers four ways to graduate, replacing a system that awarded diplomas strictly based on the number of credits a student had completed. It aligns Burrillville with Rhode Island Department of Education standards that give students more options and assess knowledge based, at least in part, on experience and demonstrated proficiency.

According to the policy approved this month, students can still opt for a traditional diploma by completing 22 academic credits including core classes, electives and a digital portfolio.

But the new policy also allows students to graduate by matching those credits with either one or two Pathway Endorsements, achieved through internships and other work-based learning experiences.

It also acknowledges students who are working toward modified standards – such as those with IEPS – who have the opportunity to utilize an “Applied Transition Pathway.”

“Students in these pathway programs must still meet the designated credit requirements in all areas, but their pathway specific classes may satisfy some credit requirements such as technology, science, or other electives,” explained Julie Mayhew, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. 

The state has a process for granting official approval to education pathways, and those that have qualified are dubbed Career and Technical Education programs. BHS currently offers three RIDE-approved CTE programs; Construction Management, Environmental Science, and Project Lead the Way Engineering.

Five additional programs are currently awaiting RIDE approval this spring: Child Care, Criminal Justice, Project Lead the Way BioMedical Science, Computer Science, and Graphic Communications.

Read more about the district’s effort to expand CTE options here.

The district also offers locally endorsed pathways in Automotive Technology, and Business and Finance, for a total of ten potential focuses for students who choose to graduate with the help of such hands on learning.

“Pathway Endorsement” graduation criteria dictates that three of a student’s classes must link to the designated curriculum.

“While pathways are not a requirement, the School Committee and the school department strongly encourage students to consider pathways as part of their high school experience,” said Mayhew. 

The Burrillville School District’s new graduation policy also addresses other updates needed to conform with statewide standards, such as removal of outdated language referencing NECAP and PARCC assessments, and requirement of a Regents Commendation of diplomas.  

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