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New graduation requirements start this fall in Cortez

M-CHS students will choose from among 7 career tracks
The Montezuma-Cortez High School class of 2016 celebrates their graduation with confetti last year. School officials have proposed graduation requirements that would start with the freshmen this fall.

This fall’s incoming freshmen at Montezuma-Cortez High School will have expanded requirements for graduating in the class of 2021.

The Colorado State Board of Education approved graduation guidelines in September 2015 that focus in part on preparing students for life after high school. They’re designed to give students a “menu of options” for their four years of high school, according to the Department of Education website.

At a March 29 meeting about the new

requirements, M-CHS Principal Jason Wayman said his staff is working on guidelines.

“What I like to say is that kids should have their bags packed and ready to go when they graduate from M-CHS,” he said.

The state requirements apply to all Colorado school districts, but the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 Board of Education hasn’t voted on specific M-CHS guidelines. The requirements likely will be on the agenda for the board’s April 18 or May 16 meeting, Superintendent Lori Haukeness said.

Currently, M-CHS students take at least 23 credits to graduate. Those include four in English, three each in science, social studies and math, half a credit each for physical education and health, and nine credits for electives.

Under proposed guidelines, the 23-credit requirement would stand, but incoming students would choose one of seven four-year tracks to prepare for college, military service or the workforce. The tracks would require students to compile an individual career academic plan, or ICAP, depending on their post-graduation plans. The ICAP would include details about students’ career interests, a post-secondary workforce goal and a resume.

Students would be able to change tracks all the way up to graduation, Wayman said.

The seven tracks

Three tracks would steer students toward college entrance exams – the SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement tracks. Students on those plans would need to score at least the state minimum on the tests.A concurrent enrollment track would help students prepare for a college or university by taking college courses during high school, simultaneously earning high school and college credit.Students on community or technical college track would take the Accuplacer test, which assesses reading, writing, math and computer skills.For the five college tracks, students would need to fill out the FAFSA financial aid application and have a college acceptance letter as part of their ICAP.

Students on a military track would prepare for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, test. They also would need an armed services acceptance letter before high school graduation.The industry track would help students earn a certificate for skills in a certain industry. Industry students’ ICAP would require an internship, work experience or experience in a career or technical education program, as well as a completed job application.M-CHS counselor Amanda Higgins starts helping eighth-graders decide whether they want a college, military or workforce track.

Wayman said the new requirements will help incoming students.

“The value in this is that students are ready to go, whatever they choose,” he said.


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