Culminating Projects

SchoolBoard Accepts Recommendation to Eliminate Senior Project
Vast majority surveyed said “eliminate it,” but find ways to keep some of the key-learning elements

During the June 10, 2015 School Board meeting, Directors agreed with the Culminating Project Committee’s recommendation to eliminate the Senior Project graduation requirement. During May, nearly 4,000 parents, students and staff completed a survey asking whether the Edmonds School District should keep the senior project as a graduation requirement even though the state Legislature had removed it as a requirement in Senate Bill 6552.

“A common theme among many of the written comments was a sense of stress felt by students, families and some staff,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy said. In addition to the survey responses, the committee also considered the increased requirements and expectations for our high school students beginning in 2015. Next year’s class is the first required to not only meet standard on state reading, writing and math assessments; they will be the first that is also required to pass the biology end of course exam. Next year will also be the first time that the new Smarter Balanced Assessment will count as a graduation requirement. 

If experience in other states is any predictor, the passage rate on this new assessment may be lower than we currently experience with the HSPE and EOC models as students become familiar with the new format. Senate Bill 6552 also adds two more credits to the graduation requirement in the next few years that will raise the number from 22 to 24 in Edmonds. Lastly, the committee noted that the culminating project was an unfunded mandate from the state when it was initiated several years ago.

Many stakeholders who advocated for keeping the project and even many of those who supported the removal of the senior project, acknowledged the benefits of some of the elements of the project. The committee recommended and the Board agreed that the district should explore ways to embed those elements in existing classes or programs where possible and appropriate. Important elements like time management skills, presentation skills, organization skills,reflection, career and college planning, setting goals and determining how to reach them, defining success and community and civic mindedness were all part of the senior project. While those skills are present in some existing classes and programs, the board has asked district staff to report back next school year on how those key abilities are being intentionally taught in classes and programs in lieu of the senior project.

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