School is out.Diploma project raises the bar for high school students

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By Jennifer Caldwell



The way that schools in Tennessee do business is changing. For the class of 2013 and the classes after that means a tougher road to graduation.

Although these changes are not likely to have students jumping for joy, Clayton Ray, secondary education supervisor, believes the increased standards will net positive results, especially for those planning to pursue a post-secondary education.

“The more rigorous the curriculum in high school the better their college experience is going to be,” Ray said.

As part of the Tennessee Diploma Project high school students across the state are required to complete four years of English, four years of math and three years of science. In addition, students must earn 3.5 credits social studies and two credits in a foreign language to graduate.

The TDP is modeled after the American Diploma Project, which was created in 1996. According to Ray, the state’s decision to adopt these new policies will help make bring high school graduation requirements more in line with the demands of college and work.

The secondary education supervisor also pointed out that changes like the ramped up math requirements will increase student performance on the ACT.

“Kids who take the ACT need at least pre-calculus to score well on the test,” Ray said explaining that Algebra I is now being offered to 8th graders as a way to help students pack in more advanced math courses when they reach high school.

Other changes brought on by the TDP include end of course exams in English I, II and II, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, U.S. History, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Much like colleges these exams will count as 25-percent of the student’s final grade and will replace the Gateway exams.

“You can’t argue the point. This is going to be so much better for our kids,” Ray said touting the state’s decision to adopt the new graduation requirements.

Though some would argue that the TDP could make it harder for some students to graduate, Ray disagrees.

“We offer credit recovery and a host of other tools to help students that have failed classes. There is really no excuse for a person not to graduate,” Ray said.

So while the TDP may mean that high school days will be filled with more work and less play, Ray said the changes adopted by the entire state will ensure that Campbell County’s students can be competitive when they make their entrances into college and the world.

“We are upping the stakes here in Campbell County. We’ve go a ways to go, but we are getting there,” Ray concluded.


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