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June 06, 2017

Graduation Pathways Primer: Tracking Key Components in Your SIS

Headshot of a former team member Kevin Rooney.

Kevin Rooney

Former Principal

High School graduation rates have become one of the leading ways in which school districts are being evaluated. Several factors determine student graduation eligibility. K12 school districts track some of the most important criteria in their Student Information Systems including: credit requirements in specific subject areas, passing state mandated testing, and the academic program a student takes to graduate from high school (e.g. college prep, voc tech, etc).

Credits Requirements Versus High School Transcripts

One of the most involved graduation requirements is setting the minimum number of credits needed for graduation. The process of tracking required credits is different than simply looking at a student’s transcript to see what courses were taken. Tracking these requirements means looking at each subject area to ensure each student satisfies the minimum course requirements set by the state. In some states, individual districts may exceed those minimums in order to establish more rigorous graduation requirements.

Credit requirements differ from transcripts. While a transcript is a record of every course a student has taken, credit requirements identify specific courses that must be taken. One example of such a course requirement is science. Graduation requirements can specify that not only do you need X number of credits in science but you must have at least one course in Biology and another in Chemistry. The course requirements tend to be very specific, making it a critical component to track to guarantee graduation.

Mandated Testing for Secondary Schools

Mandated testing is another important item that districts need to track for graduation. States, like Virginia and Louisiana, require end of course assessment for specific subject areas with specific cut scores. Other states, like New Jersey, have tests like  PARCC. All student are required to take this test to be eligible for graduation. New Jersey does offer a number of other assessments, such as SAT and ACT.  These tests serve as alternate options depending on the student’s projected graduation date.

Career Paths to K12 Graduation

The final major component is the student’s academic path. A student preparing for a college career would have one set of course requirements, while a student pursuing a path that doesn’t require college, would have a different set of course requirements.

In some states tracking graduation pathways is much more involved and can lead to certification in designated trades or careers. Some states even allow for different types of diplomas. Louisiana has been pioneering a 47 district initiative by implementing the “Jump Start Pathways” program. These diplomas lead not only to high school graduation, but also to certifications that are recognized by professional trade organizations.

Tracking all of this information is one of the biggest challenges facing K12 administrators and counselors. Having all of the information in one place allows for more efficiency and accurate reporting.

OnCourse is happy to provide a new graduation data collection module as part of its Student Information System. This module is customizable to suit the needs of individual states and districts. See, at a glance, if a student has passed required testing as well as the student’s current graduation status. Create reports based on graduation year, and run state reports as well. You can even export a list of students eligible to walk in graduation ceremonies.

If you are interested in the Graduation Pathways application, please contact us and we will help you configure it to meet the needs of your district.

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