The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School

BVNWnews

The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School

BVNWnews

The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School

BVNWnews

New graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2028

The Blue Valley School District modified its graduation requirements to align with the new Kansas State Board of Education requirements.
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Prajwal Adhikari
Digital illustration of a graduation cap and diploma.

The Blue Valley School District has defined new graduation requirements beginning with current eighth graders, or the graduating class of 2028. 

According to Kelly Ott, Blue Valley Executive Director of Academic Services, the Kansas State Board of Education in Topeka sets the graduation requirements for all of Kansas, and then individual districts base their requirements on the state requirements. The State Board of Education changed graduation requirements in November 2022, making Blue Valley adjust its graduation requirements as well. 

Ott said the number of graduation credit hours is not changing, but certain requirements within those credit hours are. She said the state board placed things into four categories: communications, STEM, society and humanities and life and employability skills. 

The communications category consists of 4.0 ELA credit hours and 0.5 communication credit hours. Ott said the communication credit requirement was introduced after employers told Dr. Randy Watson, the Kansas Commissioner of Education, that kids’ ability to communicate through written or spoken speech was lacking. 

BVNW Associate Principal of Curriculum and Instruction Leah Vomhof said there are different options of classes that can count as a student’s 0.5 communication credit at BVNW. These include, but are not limited to speech, debate, 21st-century journalism and broadcast. Vomhof said this requirement applies to classes where students spend time speaking and listening. 

[The new requirements are] emphasizing some skills that will help [students] be ready for their future. They support [students] while they’re in school to get them better ready for life after high school.

— Leah Vomhof

The STEM category is made up of 3.0 math credit hours, 3.0 science credit hours and 1.0 STEM elective credit hours. Ott said the STEM elective requirement is replacing the current technology requirement and can be fulfilled by any computer science class or an advanced science, math or technology class. She said there is a list of over 100 classes that meet this requirement. 

In addition, Vomhof said most students already take one of these classes at some point, meaning the change will not be as significant. 

“If they’re going to college, we recommend [they] take a fourth year of math and even a fourth year of science, so [this requirement] would easily be met,” Vomhof said. 

Vomhof also said students who are planning on going straight into work after high school or getting a certification can choose to take a more advanced technology class to fulfill this credit. 

The society and humanities category contains 3.0 social studies credit hours and 1.0 fine arts credit hours. Ott said these requirements have not changed, but they have just been recategorized.  

According to Ott, the life and employability skills category is just another way to say electives. This category includes 8.5 credit hours, of which 1.0 come from PE, 0.5 from health and 0.5 from financial literacy. Ott said the rest of the required credit hours in this category can be completed through other elective classes. 

The financial literacy requirement is new in this category. Vomhof said the District has renamed personal finance to financial literacy to better fit the state’s requirement and has decided to make the class available to only juniors and seniors. 

“You can’t work until you’re 16, so thinking about money, and how you budget, and how you spend and how you save isn’t gonna be as relevant for students until they’re 16 or older,” Vomhof said. 

Despite this age limit, Vomhof said some flexibility can be provided for students to take financial literacy over the summer before their junior year if there is no room in their schedules. 

Another change in graduation requirements in Blue Valley is the addition of two post-secondary assets. Ott said these are things that can help students in the next stage of their lives. 

While Vomhof said they are still working on the options for post-secondary assets, some possible tasks include a 90% attendance rate, a certain score on the ACT and even an Eagle Scout. Ott added to this list, saying students can score a three or four on a state assessment, participate in activities or sports or volunteer 40+ hours in the community as an asset. 

Ott said she likes how the post-secondary assets will make students think about their future and what they can do to prepare for their next step. 

“Those post-secondary assets kind of force you to start thinking about after high school,” Ott said. “I think that’s something that is going to be helpful.”

Additionally, Ott said she thinks the emphasis on communication is important because in any job, you are required to be able to communicate well. 

Vomhof agreed with this, saying the new graduation requirements will help students with speaking, listening, budgeting, saving and other skills. 

“[The new requirements are] emphasizing some skills that will help [students] be ready for their future,” Vomhof said. “They support [students] while they’re in school to get them better ready for life after high school.”

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About the Contributors
Sydney Barnett, Chief Writer
Sydney Barnett is a junior and Chief Writer for “The Express.” This is her second year on staff. Outside of newspaper, Sydney is involved in BVNW Ambassadors, Mu Alpha Theta, Spanish NHS, Quill and Scroll, Team Up for St. Jude, Muse, girl’s soccer and basketball. Outside of school, she enjoys playing soccer, hanging out with her friends, listening to music and going on walks. Sydney also loves working with kids and babysitting. She is excited to be a part of the newspaper staff this year at Northwest. 
Prajwal Adhikari, Sports Design Editor
Prajwal is a senior and Sports Design Editor for “The Express.” This is his second year on staff. Outside of newspaper, Prajwal is a clarinet section leader of the Howlin’ Husky Marching Band and plans to participate in various clubs throughout the year. Prajwal enjoys hanging out with friends, rooting for the Packers, and watching movies with family. He is excited to express his creativity as a designer and editor!

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