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Students in the Canyons School District will now have three diploma options.
The Canyons School Board unanimously voted Tuesday to approve a plan that would add two advanced options to the existing diploma. The board also approved a measure to reconfigure grade distribution in its schools.
The vote came only 24 hours after major changes to the diploma proposal were posted on the district's Web site Monday night, most notably in the highest-level diploma to be offered.
Superintendent David Doty had previously proposed an "Apex" diploma, which would require 22 credits, including higher-level math and science, and put students on track for the state-funded Regents' scholarship. That proposal met with resistance from fine arts teachers and the LDS church, all worried that so many credits devoted to math and science would decrease enrollment in the arts and release-time seminary.
Instead, students will have the option of an "Honors" diploma.
Students would complete 20 credits, instead of the state-required 18, including two language credits, math through Algebra II and two laboratory science courses. They would also be required to submit an ACT score showing proficiency in college readiness benchmarks. Students whose ACT scores don't pass muster would still qualify for the "Advanced" diploma.
"If you can hit those benchmark scores, you can walk on any university or college campus and immediately begin taking credit-bearing classes," said district spokesman Jeff Haney, who added the program's goal is to graduate students who are college or career ready.
The program is still a work in progress, and could include components like district-funded ACT prep classes and the chance for each student to take the expensive test once on the district's dime, Haney said.
Board President Tracy Cowdell also expressed interest in having a senior project be a required component.
The program has already received endorsements from State Higher Education Commissioner William Sederburg, as well as organizations representing local businesses like the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and Utah Technology Council.
The program will rely heavily on the redistribution policy, Haney said, which would move ninth-grade students into high school, allowing them an earlier start on degree plans. Sixth-grade students would also be moved to middle schools. The question did raise some concern from board members with younger children at home, like Kim Horiuchi, but also won unanimous approval.
It will take at least a year to implement the new diploma program, Doty said, with the redistribution at least two years away. Moving students is heavily dependent on building a new high school in Draper, which would make room for ninth graders at Alta High School.
Under the new plan, students could choose from one of three diploma options.
18 total state-required credits
3 English credits
3 math credits
3 science credits
20 total credits
4 English credits
2 world language credits
3 math credits, at least through Algebra II
3 science credits, including two laboratory courses
Students must meet the credits outlined in the Advanced diploma and achieve benchmark scores on the ACT