H-H Considers Cutting Graduation Requirements

Under the proposal being considered by the Hatboro-Horsham School Board, the class of 2016 and beyond could opt for two different types of diplomas.

Of 22 school districts throughout Montgomery and Bucks counties, Hatboro-Horsham High School has the fourth-highest number of credits required for students to graduate high school.

But, that could change under a dual diploma possibility that the Hatboro-Horsham School Board is mulling over.

Currently, seniors must successfully complete 29 credits in order to graduate. For students deemed "advanced scholars" that requirement would stay the same. For the rest of the student body, the credit requirement could be scaled back to 27, under a proposal put forth by Principal Dennis Williams.

Even with the cut - which has not been approved yet - Williams pointed out that the credit requirement would still be above the state's 21-credit minimum requirement as well as the 23-credit requirement from 1993, when he graduated from Hatboro-Horsham High School.

"The idea or the goal was to increase the rigor," Williams said of why credit requirements have consistently increased at the high school. Credits have remained at 29 since 2010.

Under the proposal, which Williams presented Monday night during the school board's work session, students vying for a "standard" diploma would scale back electives to between 4 and 8 credits total instead of the existing 6 to 10 credits. Those seeking a more advanced diploma would need 3 credits of world language, 5.5 elective credits and a 3.4 grade point average. 

"We have kids who graduate with more than these credits," Williams said. "Sixty-five percent of Hatboro-Horsham High School graduate with more."

Students seeking the advanced diploma would apply for it in the first semester of their junior year, Williams said. 

Do you think Hatboro-Horsham High School should offer two types of diplomas, in essence requiring fewer course credits for graduation?

In May, when the district began discussions of staff cuts, Superintendent Curtis Griffin suggested that reductions in graduation requirements could help scale back the need for staff. 

“Less credits, less classes, less staff,” Griffin said in May.

When Patch inquired Monday if staff reductions were the driving force behind the graduation requirements, Griffin stopped short of saying yes.

"Could that alter our staffing needs at the high school?" Griffin asked. "Yes."

Griffin said the board likely would not decide on a change in graduation requirements until early in 2013. 

And before then, Williams said he has more legwork to do in terms of talking to officials at Souderton Area High School, Central Bucks High School West, Central Bucks High School East and Central Bucks High School South to see how those schools implemented the change to more than one diploma and how it impacted students. 

Based on his research, Williams said Souderton Area School District and Central Bucks School District are the only two districts of roughly three dozen regionally that offer differentiated diplomas.

"It brings some distinction to the achievement of students who go above and beyond," Williams said. 

, agreed and said having a more advanced diploma would be "helpful."

Student Council President Sean Raymond, who was also in attendance Monday, was less sure. Raymond said that by offering a diploma with fewer credit requirements the district could potentially "discourage (students) from going in and taking extra courses."

Tara October 02, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Not sure how I feel about this less credit thing. But very dissapointed that this was brought up before addressing that our High school is ranking poorly! Nothing was addressed at back to school night, it was in Patch the day after. As far as I know...nothing since. No ackowledgement we have a problem, no plan to correct it. Maybe this is just that? Still no owning it! Ignore it looks like you care about the kids education? Are we lowering (credit requirements) our standards to "look" better instead of rise to what HH was capable in the past? Still shocked our high school is not addressing it! #1. They owe the kids an apology! #2. They owe the parents an apology and maybe a rebate on those taxes they paid for school tax that obviously were NOT used wisely. #3. Maybe time to evaluate staff! If they aren't capable of reaching our students, teaching, explaining and broadening their minds-REPLACE them with teachers that will. #4. Education plan put in place to fix this fast! I do want to state I am sure their are more details here I am unaware of. Would love to hear more from others.
qdogPa October 02, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Hey, at least we have an artificial football field ;)
qdogPa October 02, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Btw, why hasn't the BOE told us who "hacked" the computer system revealing grades and class rank? MANY people already know, as it has been known for over a month!!!
Tori October 02, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I agree with Tara if you are going to make us pay these high taxes I want a rebate! Why am I paying top dollar for a less than stellar education. I guess the district's mind is on running to the bank to cash their big check rather than give the kids of the area a decent education.
hatboro dad October 02, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I missed the article about the hs ranking poorly. Can someone point me to a link for it?
qdogPa October 02, 2012 at 02:57 PM
M.K. October 02, 2012 at 03:04 PM
HH does offer a great education. Take it from someone who has lived in other parts of the country where education truly is awful!!!
Diane Czerviski October 02, 2012 at 03:06 PM
The article says HHHS ranked 27 out of the "TOP 40" Schools in the Philadelphia Business Journal. I assume the top 40 came from Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. To me #27 is pretty darn good. There are litterally hundreds of schools in this area. It does say SAT scores have dropped slightly from 2010 to 2011 but only by a few points each section. Very minimal decline. You have to take into account that almost all the students are taking the exam now at least once - not just those destined for college. Plus more kids are going on to secondary education then ever before. Bascially lots of kids who are not academically strong are taking the SAT. I think that is actually positive. Maybe these kids will opt for community college or similar but they are planning.
Diane Czerviski October 02, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I see the change in graduation requirements as 1) Making it easier for some kids to graduate but 2) Making it harder for the majority of the kids to graduate with an "advanced degree". First we implemented a GPA scale that weighted based on class difficulty and not just grades. Unfortunately this means that a straight A student in Academic classes can never get into the Honor Society. Parents with extremely high performing students constantly search for ways to differentiate them from the mainstream student body. Highlighting their accomplishments in an effort to score them into prestigeous colleges. It creates a sort of class system within the high school. The achievers and everyone else. If they want to lower the # of credits then they should just do that. Say from 29 (out of possible 32) to 25 or whatever. Everyone earning 25+ graduates - thats it. Why the need to create a second diploma differnentiating those that meet those additional requirements? Bragging...that's why.
qdogPa October 02, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Diane, it is top 40 High Schools in the area, if you looked at the list, it would leave no doubt that HHHS rank of 27 out of 40 is not so good
qdogPa October 02, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Why the need to creat a second diploma? You state it is for bragging, and that may be true..but equally important it is to get more kids thru the school,with a lesser workload...
Leigh October 02, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Slightly dipping SAT scores when more students are taking them is not a problem. Our school district is ranked in the top 30 in the entire state! Our high school ranked 37 in Philadelphia Magazines top 100 schools in the area, including NJ. Our taxes are not that high in comparison to other districts that are on par with ours. No need to be so negative and try to find problems where none exist.
qdogPa October 03, 2012 at 12:14 AM
The thought that more students are taking the SAT's and causing a slight decrease in our overall scores is true, BUT the same would be true for all other districts, many kf which have seen an increase in total SAT scores
woodsy October 03, 2012 at 01:34 AM
I would rather see kids have to apply for the "express"/lesser credit diploma rather than what is stated in the article, kids having to apply for the advanced diploma which is the norm now. I'm in favor of keeping the bar at the same height, not calling today's standards "advanced" tomorrow and relying on kids to "seek" it. It would be a pity for promising kids to fall through the cracks because they never received encouragement from home to apply for a special diploma track, or had low confidence in spite of good performance and didn't realize their own potential. In my humble opinion it is better to leave the standards high and leave the option for less to kids who have a promising non-collegiate path to prepare for (like a family trade or one developed in technical school) to apply for a diploma with fewer credits so they can focus on honing their trades instead of coursework beyond the state requirement that doesn't fit their career aspirations.
Mike F October 03, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Looks like the school and school board are more interested in keeping salaries and benefits high by getting rid of staff instead of dealing with the teachers union to scale back benefits and actually provide an education for our children. --- [In May, when the district began discussions of staff cuts, Superintendent Curtis Griffin suggested that reductions in graduation requirements could help scale back the need for staff. “Less credits, less classes, less staff,” Griffin said in May.] Yeah, good idea -- less credits, less staff, less education. Good job HH.
Jd mcgowen October 08, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Ya know, I graduated HH in 1995 under Hottenstein with the 23 credit requirement. Is that too little of an education. I work for the district now and mostly everyone I know went on to be successful. You are crying about the cut in credit requirements, but looking back in time, these requirements are not neccessary to be successful adults.
Incognito October 08, 2012 at 06:05 AM
I don't think there should be two different options. If you allow some students to graduate with less credits, they won't try as hard or take classes that could spark new interests. We all know that every student is not college bound, but why discourage them from furthering their education by letting them take a super light course load? Besides, students who do plan on going to college, but don't get the advanced degree will be looked poorly upon by college admissions. It doesn't make sense. If the school wants to cut costs, stop giving so many teachers tenure. Although many retired, so many of the tenured teachers I had were terrible. Despite taking AP classes, I feel as though I learned nothing. They just did not really care about improving their teaching or encouraging students to do well. Also, lots of people think that H-H is a top school. In comparison to the majority of high schools in the country, yes it is. It should be since we live in a financially stable community and pay plenty of taxes. However, compare it to surrounding schools and you'll find that no, we are not the best...not even close. One of my good friends went to Souderton and do you know how disheartening it was to discover that she learned more calculus in 1 semester of honors calc than we covered in an ENTIRE YEAR of AP CALCULUS?? That's not right. Perhaps the school district should focus on finding better teachers and improving current courses.
Incognito October 08, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Unless they changed things since I graduated, there are 2 different GPA scales: a weighted one and an unweighted one. The weighted one takes into account the difficulty of the classes, as it should. If there wasn't a weighted scale there would literally by dozens of valedictorians since everyone would have the same GPA. I'm sorry, but I do not think that someone who gets As in academic classes deserves to be valedictorian as much as someone who gets straight As in AP classes, which require much more time, effort, and dedication. However, I do believe that regardless of the rigor of your classes, you should be commended on a job well done in some way. I agree that this change will just cause an increase in bragging and god knows H-H does not need more of that.
Incognito October 08, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Alternative solution: if you need to cut requirements, get rid of graduation project. It's really not that helpful and the whole outdoors part is just asking for a lawsuit if someone gets injured. It's a liability that the school does not need. I never did understand why they tried to get us to bond with our classmates at the end of our senior year anyway. It's not like we're going to all become best friends and keep in touch forever based on that one class.
JB October 08, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Tara & qdog- did you happen to notice that most of the schools listed in the top 20 are located in more AFFLUENT areas?! Go ahead and research what the school taxes are in those districts, i.e. Lower Merion, Radnor, Lower Moreland, Council Rock, New Hope-Solebury, Upper Dublin, Wissahickon, and what these schools spend on their students on average. Not to mention that their well-heeled parents are likely able to provide for generous amounts of private tutoring and SAT prep courses outside of school which may be out of reach financially for a many (but not all) of HH parents.
Roman Gabriel October 08, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Why bother making changes. In 2008 H-H made there students watch the Obama indocrination video. If the faculty and administration are that stupid, can you expect the students to be any different ?
Incognito October 14, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Speaking of stupid, you used "there" incorrectly. It should be "their." Technically speaking, it should probably be "its," not "their" anyway.


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