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"Following two years of study, the Washington State Board of Education adopted revised state minimum high school graduation requirements at its meeting held Oct. 27, 2000. The focus in the development of the revised requirements was to create a framework that respected state interests and allowed for flexibility and local control by school districts.Included in the board's action was the establishment of two non-credit requirements for graduation. The two non-credit requirements are the Culminating Project, wherein each student will demonstrate his or her learning competencies and preparations related to Learning Goals Three and Four; and the High School + Education Plan, which requires each student to prepare an education plan for their high school experience, and incorporate that plan in the year following graduation. These requirements, in addition to other newly adopted state minimum high school graduation requirements, will begin with the ninth grade class of 2004.Additional state adopted items of local importance included:*Determination of student achievement in the subject areas not assessed by the secondary Washington Assessment of Student Learning will remain at the local level.*School districts will now have the additional discretion to award high school credit based upon clearly identified competencies locally determined through district policy and not tied to a specific number of hours of instruction.*Each school district board of directors must develop a written policy regarding the recognition and acceptance of earned credits. The Federal Way Public Schools' Board of Education has initiated a review of the graduation requirements for our district. Specific recommendations under consideration include a more rigorous system of determining student mastery of class content; and increasing math graduation requirements to include Algebra I and Geometry I in addition to general math.Three community forums have been scheduled to invite student, parent and community participation with regard to our course expectations and graduation requirements. Forums will be held on Jan. 18, Jan. 25, and Feb. 1 at the Regional Library, Federal Way High School, and the Federal Way Fire Station, respectively. All forums will begin at 7 p.m. and will conclude at 8:30 p.m. I strongly encourage your attendance and welcome your participation in one or all of these forums. As the state moves forward empowering each district to make more decisions at the local level, an increased responsibility is handed us, each of us, to ensure every child receives the best education, preparing them to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead of them. Thomas Murphy is the superintendent for Federal Way Public Schools. "

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