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Berkeley County changes graduation requirements

January 21, 1998

Berkeley County changes graduation requirements

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Board of Education Tuesday approved new graduation requirements for students that are designed to give them a better preparation for entering the work force.

The new requirements will affect those students in the class of 2002 who are now in eighth grade, according to Frank Aliveto, the assistant superintendent for instruction. Each of those students will be required to earn four credits in career major courses.

Out of the 24 credits required for graduation, another four can be elective, or "pathway supportive" courses. The latter are courses related to the career major selected by the student.

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There also will be a non-credit, work-based learning component. Aliveto said that is still in development, but students could fulfill the requirement through summer or after-school jobs, internships at businesses, community service or classroom options.

A committee is being formed to determine what will qualify as "viable work experience," Aliveto said.

The county's Business-Education Partnership Inc., a group of more than 70 businesses working with the system, will be heavily involved in the worked-based learning.

"We're really going to be asking for their expertise," Aliveto said.

He said about 1,500 students will be required to have a work experience component by the 2001-2002 school year.

Aliveto said that at the end of the eighth grade, students will select from a group of career "clusters" to give them a general understanding of careers during their freshman and sophomore years. By their junior year, students will select a career major.

The policy adopted by the board would allow students to change their major at the end of a semester after consulting with a school counselor. They must still, however, complete four career major courses for graduation.

The school system must also do a one-year followup on students after they graduate, according to Aliveto. That would track whether students went to college or technical school or entered the workplace.

The new graduation requirements will bring the school system in line with state law under the Schools to Work initiative.

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