Written by Rani Shiao
During the school board meeting on Tuesday, May 3, the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) board members elected to modify Gunn and Palo Alto High School’s graduation requirements from the original 210 semester units to 220 for the class of 2016.
These changes will include a two-year requirement of a world language, an extra year of math courses, and two years of lab-required science classes. These additions will align the schools’ graduation requirements with the University of Californias’ A-G requirements.
This is another tool to address the achievement gap in PAUSD schools. “Research shows that students, especially those of color, tend to perform more successfully in four-year colleges if their high school course selection is rigorous,” Assistant Principal of Facilities Kimberly Cowell said. “Of course, increased rigor is beneficial for all students regardless of ethnicity.”
By implementing these changes, PAUSD hopes to boost graduation percentages for the 20 percent of students who are currently not fulfilling the requirements set in place for admission in the University of California system. “The change will not affect the majority of our students,” Cowell said. “Instead, it’s primarily a change for the students who are capable of being four-year college eligible, but who may not have challenged themselves to achieve this, or who may need more school resources to support them. This change puts more pressure on our system to better meet the needs of all of our students.”