Kentucky's Department of Education talks graduating seniors and NTI days

Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 4:38 PM EDT
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The Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Education Continuation Task Force held its second meeting virtually on Monday to discuss options about how high school graduation requirements will be met for current seniors.

Questions of how graduation ceremonies will happen for this year's seniors is one of the most frequently asked questions due to schools being closed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“One of our concerns that we have across the state is all of the seniors having the opportunity to fulfill their graduation requirements,” said Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis of KDE’s Office of Teaching and Learning said.

At the moment, seniors must have a minimum of 22 credit hours. While local districts have the ability to add additional requirements that increase credit hours, KDE is considering asking districts to waive any additional hours so that their seniors will be able to graduate high school.

Other options include the Kentucky Board of Education allowing regular requirements for electives to be waived.

Seniors are required by law to have seven elective credit hours. Under this option, seniors could graduate with a minimum of 15 total credit hours, which would eliminate their elective requirements.

During this unusual time and circumstance, it is important to remember that whatever decision is chosen, it would only affect the seniors graduating in 2020. The requirements that were put into law are still in place and other classes would need to meet either the minimum graduation requirements or the requirements that their local district has put into place.

KDE also is considering a waiver of the civics test requirement for seniors. Students are required to pass a 100-question civics test with a minimum of 60 percent in order to graduate from a public high school with a regular diploma.

“We have requested that this requirement be waived,” said Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis of KDE’s Office of Teaching and Learning said. “This is another thing that we do not want prohibiting seniors from graduating.”

Another concern raised by the task force is the potential for tiredness on behalf of teachers, parents and students once the newness of NTI days begins to wear off.

“We don’t have answers for that,” Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown said. “These are things that we’re trying to grapple with right now in real-time.”

The purpose of NTI was never supposed to be a long-term education replacement. It was designed for extreme weather that would keep students out of school for anywhere between one and 10 days.

Brown added that discussions will need to be had about what NTI looks like going forward.