Seniors freed of portfolio requirement City school policy altered to ease student workload

June 07, 1996|By Jean Thompson | Jean Thompson,SUN STAFF

Because 75 percent of Baltimore's high school juniors have not started the community service work required to graduate next June, the city school board decided yesterday to lighten their load.

The board abolished a city school system policy that required students to complete a portfolio or project in art, music, speech, dance or writing.

At the same time, the board urged school principals to make the state-required service-learning project every new senior's immediate priority.

"We want to make sure those students are going to graduate," said board member Lora Mayo.

The Class of 1997 will be the first whose graduation depends on completion of the 75 hours of volunteer work required by the state. The prospect of a significant number of city students failing to graduate piqued board members.

"We don't want to be embarrassed by this next year, come graduation time," board member Lloyd T. Bowser Sr. said.

The high school "aesthetic project" was established as a graduation requirement three years ago, but most schools were not ready to meet the standard by June 1997, said Mary R. Nicholsonne, associate superintendent for instruction. Students who are at work on projects and portfolios will be encouraged to finish them, she said.

Only one-third of the Maryland students required to do community service to graduate next year have completed that requirement, a February report to the state school board showed. Maryland is the only state to require "service-learning" credits of its high school graduates.

Since 1993, students could earn credit for volunteering at school, community programs and churches. Summer programs are being developed to help Baltimore seniors get started, Nicholsonne said.

Pub Date: 6/07/96

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