An Albany County School District No. 1 Board of Education member recently questioned how the board should review the early graduation, process recently and the downsides of allowing students to graduate early.
The need for a designated way to evaluate early graduation applications was brought up after newly elected Board of Education Clerk Jason Tangeman commented on how the process was different from past years. Tangeman said the board should find a consistent way to evaluate the requests ensuring each student trying to graduate early goes through the same process, he said.
“We don’t seem to have a process,” Tangeman said. “There is an application, and we seemed to follow a process (in the past). I didn’t know if last year’s process was an irregular thing, or if this is the regular process. I mean there is an application, a letter and everything.”
Newly elected Vice Chair Michele Mitchum said the board does not need to make the early graduation process harder for students. To be able to graduate early, students have to work with counselors to make sure they meet all the requirements, complete an application and present to the Board of Education why they want to graduate early, she said.
“They all seem like kids with really bright futures,” Mitchum said. “I am just a little fuzzy on the criteria (for approving applications). I think we need … just a little bit of clarity, (such as) these are credit hours that need to be met and these are the pieces of the application that need to be in place for this application to meet the criteria.”
Trustee Tammy Schroeder said she is opposed to students graduating early because it could encourage more students to graduate early to pursue things such as serving in the military or joining the workforce that could have waited.
“I am philosophically and adamantly opposed to students graduating early for a number of reasons,” Schroeder said. “Kids don’t have to go into the military in January. They can go in May and they would get the same thing.”
She said she has concerns college courses allowing students to graduate early don’t require the same commitment as the high school equivalent.
“We believe that kids should get a full education, so it is not just about credit hours,” Schroeder said.
“When I talk about current enrollment at Laramie High School, one semester equals one semester … now I see in the LHS handbook that one semester of college is two semesters of high school.”
ACSD No. 1 Superintendent Jubal Yennie said district officials have done their best to help these students, but the board would need to figure out standards for allowing students to graduate early.
“I think our folks are doing the best they can with the resources they have and in the absence of those clear instructions,” Yennie said. “I think we can clearly define that (and) it doesn’t appear we have a process, and we don’t have a policy that specifically states how that process works.”