Scottsdale students will soon have to take more science classes to earn their high school diploma.
Scottsdale Unified School District’s governing board gave preliminary approval Tuesday night to a plan that requires high school students to take three science courses instead of two and that would institute a three-tier diploma system. If the board formally approves the changes in August, they will go into effect for students starting their freshman year in fall 2008.
The district will also start offering a wider variety of science classes next year, including oceanography, human physiology and astronomy, said Ildiko Laczko-Kerr, executive director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.
“(Physics) might not get their interest,” she said. “We’ve already started loading up on additional ‘cool’ science courses.”
All students will have to take three years of science, but they’ll have some choice as to what type of diploma they earn.
Students at any high school could earn a 22-credit standard diploma or a 24-credit scholar diploma, which would require four years of math instead of three.
Laczko-Kerr said 70 percent of Scottsdale students already take enough classes to earn the scholar diploma.
Students at Sierra Vista, the district’s alternative high school, also could take fewer electives and earn a 20-credit diploma.
But board members asked the district to put checks in place to prevent students from transferring to Sierra Vista to get that diploma and encourage them to earn the scholar diploma.
Board member Eric Meyer said he thought even 24 credits may not be enough to prepare students to compete in the market.
“If you challenge kids to excel, they’ll excel,” Meyer said. “If we let the bar slide, they’ll slide with it.”
Board President Karen Beckvar raised concerns about costs.
“If you want to have more credit hours, we have to have more periods in the day,” she said. “That costs money. We need to make that a budget priority.”