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North Kansas City schools boost graduation requirements

Graduating from high school just got harder in the North Kansas City School District.

Board of Education members voted last week to increase the required number of credits from 24 to 26. Students also will need to take four math credits during their high school tenure, complete a half-credit of online coursework and finish a service component.

The new requirements will apply to the graduating class of 2019 and students that come after.

David Ulrich, deputy director of secondary education for the North Kansas City School District, told board members at a previous meeting that one reason they were recommending the change was that district no longer wanted to be seen as “the valley” in terms of graduation requirements when compared to other school districts.

Currently, Park Hill Schools require 28 credits and the Liberty School District requires a minimum of 25.5 credits.

Current high school students in the North Kansas City School district have the option of pursuing one of four separate paths to graduation: a North Kansas City Schools Diploma, College Readiness Diploma, Gold Medallion Honors Diploma or an International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Under the new requirements, the class of 2019 will no longer have the option of earning the North Kansas City Schools Diploma, which required 24 credits. The College Readiness Diploma will also be renamed to the Career/College Readiness Diploma and all students will be required to achieve at least 26 credits.

One issue that the district’s graduation task force committee, which recommended the new requirements, struggled with was whether to increase math requirements from a minimum of three credits to four credits.

Ultimately, Ulrich said last week, the committee decided requiring four math credits would be in the best interest of all students.

Kathy Mahan, a counselor at Oak Park High School and a member of the task force committee, said the committee recommended four credits instead of requiring a specific class such as Algebra II so students of all ability levels could select the path that worked best for them.

“I am excited to think we are going to diversify in a way that makes sense to students who are doing all kinds of tasks,” she said.