Moline School officials, who are reducing the number of credit hours required to graduate high school to the lowest of any Quad-Cities district, do not believe the cost-cutting measure bodes ill for students.|
Admission officials at local colleges agreed with Moline administrators the change will not hinder the district's goal of churning out career- and college-ready graduates.
"In terms of the quality of academic experience, we find that more is not necessarily better and that content is more important than the number of credits," said John Cooper, St Ambrose University's vice president for enrollment management.
Moline, which now requires a minimum of 23 credits to graduate, the same as several other districts, recently decided to decrease the required number of credits by a half credit each year until it reaches 21.5 credits in 2016.
The decrease in required credits means Moline High School can reduce its staff by 12 full-time teachers and is expected to save the district at least $600,000, according to officials. Staffing decisions and cuts will be determined after students register for classes and elective courses with the fewest number of students enrolled are identified.
The new graduation requirements in Moline will still exceed that of Illinois requirements of a minimum of 16.75 credits in core subject areas like English, social studies, math, science, consumer economics and physical education. Iowa does not set a minimum credit number but requires a similar load of core courses. Beyond the state requirements, local school boards determine additional graduation requirements.
Moline Superintendent David Moyer said students will still be able to fit in the courses they are looking for most: advanced placement courses or other college equivalent coursework. He said he knows colleges also want to see students taking as many years of core courses as possible, and that can still be achieved.
"Under the new system, students will be able to take between 7 1/4 and 11 1/4 additional credits above the minimum state requirements," he said. "Students should have ample opportunity to access rigorous upper level courses in the core areas, and over 80 percent of our current students will not even notice any change next year."
Mr. Moyer said some students will experience reduced opportunities to take as many elective opportunities as they have in the past, primarily in non-core subject areas. He said the district would not have adopted the schedule change if there was a concern that students would not be able to leave Moline ready to enter college or the workforce.
College admissions officers at area colleges agreed the number of credits a high school student earns is irrelevant and said the emphasis is on what a student chooses to study and his or her performance on standardized testing that matters.
Mr. Cooper said admission applications are evaluated based on a student's GPA, what courses they were able to take in high school and ACT or SAT test scores.
Augustana dean of admissions Dane Rowley said Augustana recommends students have four years of English, three or four years of math, three years of social science, two years of laboratory science and at least two years of foreign language.
"The cumulative GPA is important, though we are more interested in the rigor and breadth of the classes they have taken and the overall performance trend over four years," Mr. Rowley said.
Western Illinois University – Quad Cities assistant director of admissions Kassie Daly said incoming freshmen must have four years of English, three years of social studies and three years of math.
"Of course within those areas, we will be looking for courses of a particular nature," she said. "It is not so much in the number of credits a student has as it is having the right credits in their studies."
Ms. Daly advised parents and students to monitor how they are utilizing credits "to the best of the student's ability" so they may take the required courses they need and the elective courses they want.
Minimum credits to graduate
Moline 23 (21.5 credits in 2016)
United Township 23
Pleasant Valley 23
Rock Island 24
Maximum credits possible
Moline 32 (28 in 2016)
Pleasant Valley 30.5
Rock Island 28
United Township 28
Davenport Information not provided
Moline, IL Details
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