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Tough graduation decision ahead for Pasco County School Board, superintendent warns

New state law will make it harder to know if all seniors have met their requirements in time for the event.
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning tells the School Board it has a tough decision ahead on high school graduations. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published Feb. 21, 2018
Updated Feb. 21, 2018

Next spring, Florida school districts won't be allowed to begin their state testing until May 1.

That could cause some problems for seniors "on the bubble" for meeting their graduation requirements in time for commencement, Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning warned. Their scores might not be available in time to know if they actually graduated.

The question to the School Board then becomes, will those students be allowed to participate in the celebration, or not?

"Historically, we have not allowed people to walk without meeting all the requirements," Browning told the board. "We have to get your sense of where to go with this."

Should the district let those students who haven't fully met the requirements march across the stage and get a certificate of completion, with a diploma to come when their scores arrive? Would the board like to postpone commencement from late May to mid June, to give them a chance to earn the diploma outright?

"Even then, it's going to be dicey if you will get some of the FSA results back," Browning said.

The board, he said, is going to have to make a determination of how tough it wants to be. "Think about it, because we are being forced to do that now."

The district Student Progression Plan currently states that students who have not met grade-point or credit requirements may not participate in the ceremony. It adds:

"Students pursuing the 18 or 24 credit option who meet all graduation requirements with the exception of the 10th grade FSA ELA, and or the Algebra 1 EOC, may participate in regular high school or adult education graduation ceremonies." (Page 87)

Board members did not weigh in. They plan to hold a workshop on graduation and related issues on May 1.