Juneau school board temporarily reduces graduation requirements to help students catch up

Maya Araujo, left and Jade Araujo pose for graduation photos outside Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kale on May 18, 2020.
Maya Araujo, left and Jade Araujo pose for graduation photos outside Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kale on May 18, 2020. The twins were the first of about 130 JD seniors to walk the stage over three days of individual graduation ceremonies that school officials arranged to avoid large gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The Juneau School District Board of Education passed a slight change to graduation requirements Tuesday night.

The next three graduating classes will have to earn half a credit less than the classes before them in order to graduate.

JSD Superintendent Bridget Weiss said students will still have to complete core academic credits like English and math, but this change will give them some wiggle room.

“What we’re hoping is that this just relieves a little bit of the pressure for those students who lost some credits throughout the pandemic and provides a little bit of space in their schedule to make up those core academic credits,” Weiss said.

After the classes of 2022, ’23 and ’24 finish high school, the graduation requirements will return to where they were pre-COVID. 

“We also are very proud of our graduation requirements,” Weiss said. “We have a pretty high standard when you look at it comparatively and the board really did not want to sacrifice that high standard.”

Juneau schools have long surpassed state standards on graduation requirements and even with the change, Juneau students will still be meeting those.

During Tuesday’s meeting, board member Emil Mackey said he was torn in both directions.

“On one hand, I hate that we’re weakening our standards,” he said. “But at the same time too, this has been a remarkable time and we have to realize that the pandemic has created a new reality and time marches on.”

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