Tennessee: Sullivan County Board of Education passes new graduation requirements, including foreign language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Dec 11 14:21:21 UTC 2008

By Wes Bunch

Published December 9th, 2008 | 0 Comments

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Board of Education passed new
graduation requirements for students entering high school next year
and moved a step closer to finalizing a revised ethics policy at its
December meeting Tuesday night. The new requirements are set to begin
with the graduating class of 2013 and reflect changes mandated by the
Tennessee Diploma Project. Students will be required to pass a minimum
of 23 credit hours to receive a diploma. "These are definitely higher
standards with added rigor in math and science," Assistant Director of
Schools Gene Johnson said. "We began this year with K-8 curriculum
that addresses higher standards, so we're preparing kids by preparing
teachers for those higher standards."

Under the new requirements, students will transition from taking
Gateway tests to end-of-course tests that will be counted as a
percentage of their yearly grade, he said. They also do away with
university or technical path choices and instead award a single
diploma for all students. Credit requirements for subjects like
English and science will remain the same, while other subjects like
math and social studies move from three to four credits.

The additional credit requirement for social studies allows the school
district to make government a one-credit class and pair a half credit
of economics with a half credit of personal finance — a new course
required by the state. The changes also double the one-credit
requirement for lifetime wellness and require students to take six
credit hours of fine arts, foreign language and elective focus —
although students who are sure they will not attend college can waive
fine arts and language classes for other electives.

The board also approved a revised ethics policy on its first reading.
A combination of previous policies, the revised ethics guidelines are
divided into two sections, Federal Programs Supervisor Janie Barnes
said. "We had two separate policies," she said. "So we thought it was
better to combine them than to confuse people." Both policies were
taken from the Tennessee School Boards Association. The opening
section of the policy, which was first passed in 1999, deals with the
behavior and relationships of board members. The second part of the
policy, which was required earlier this year by a mandate from the
Tennessee General Assembly, pertains to both the board and school
system employees, Barnes said.

Barnes said the school system would strictly enforce the policy,
especially the second half since it deals with receiving personal
gifts and other things of value. "Some other districts may not be as
strict in their enforcement," she said. "But our board chair and the
board said we wanted to go that route. The final version of the ethics
policy will be voted on for adoption at the board's January meeting.

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