Requirements for high school graduation should put greater focus on participating in exchange trips and experiential learning.
That’s the conclusion of a graduation requirements report that went before the Richmond School District Education Committee last Monday and is expected to be presented to the school board Jan. 7 after Monday evening’s board meeting.
“I was surprised to see that most of the students didn’t stress the academics, but wanted more hands-on experience and volunteerism,” said Eric Yung, school trustee and head of the education committee.
“They seemed to be aware of the need for additional skill sets when entering the workplace.”
In the beginning of November, the Ministry of Education asked the province’s school districts for feedback and recommendations for new graduation requirements.
The Richmond School District held a public forum at Steveston-London secondary and eight other focus groups, as well as provided a space on its website for online feedback.
In total, the district heard from 390 participants — 202 students, 60 parents, 34 teachers, six trustees and 88 community members and administrators.
If the board approves the presentation in January, the report will then go before the ministry.
“We’re aware that some of these points will require an increase in funding,” said Yung, referring to field trips abroad in particular.
“So I’m not sure how realistic it’ll be. But hopefully, the ministry understands that for the feedback we’re providing, perhaps they can increase some of the funding.”
In general, the report hopes to achieve consistent requirements across the district that better assess a student’s overall character.
For example, for subjects such as the trades or the arts that aren’t as easy to merely assign a mark to, the district wants to include portfolios for each student.
The proposed changes to the high school graduation requirements parallel UBC and SFU, as both universities move toward a holistic model when looking at applications, according to Yung.
The ministry presented each school district with the same five questions to answer. However, Yung would have also liked to see more Richmond-specific questions presented at the focus groups and forum.
“In Richmond, for example, there’s a large ESL component,” he said. “So I wanted to know what was felt in terms of ESL, what parents and students are looking for.”
The findings will be presented to the focus groups within the district and an online version will be posted on the district’s website.