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If a proposed policy is approved, incoming ninth grade students will need to earn an additional two elective credits to graduate Dothan High School in 2023.

The additional requirement is part of a new 422-page Student Progression Plan (SPP) for Dothan City Schools that includes all policies and procedures guiding curriculum, and instruction and grading practices.

It also details the exact credits needed to graduate, and how many credits a student can earn with each class.

Incoming and current Dothan High School students would still abide by the 24-credit requirement, the minimum required by the state of Alabama.

Here is a breakdown of the current credits required to graduate:

>> 4 credits of English

>> 4 credits of mathematics

>> 4 credits of social studies

>> 4 credits of science, including Biology and Physical Science

>> 1 credit of physical education, which can be a JRTOC credit or two years of marching band

>> ½ credit of health education

>> 3 credits of career technical education and/or Foreign Language and/or Arts Education

>> 1 credit of career preparedness (a course required in ninth grade)

>> 2 ½ elective credits

If the school board approves the SPP, students will be required to earn 26 credits to graduate from the school system.

Lee Jacobs, assistant superintendent for instruction and accountability, said that increasing the minimum obligation made sense when moving to a block schedule, in which students can earn a possible 31 credits.

“If you left it at 24, by the time they are a junior, they could have 23 credits,” Jacobs said in an interview with the Dothan Eagle. “That would mean by senior year, they would only need one more credit.”

The committee decided that two more elective credits would allow students the opportunity to take more courses outside the core.

“Core classes cut out the opportunity to take some elective courses,” Jacobs said. “With this, students can get more out of their high school experience. They can take more AP courses, more career tech courses, especially if it’s geared toward the job they want to have when they get out.”

“We wanted to put some grit into it,” Jacobs said of the increase. “A lot of students already graduate with more credits than are required. It’s not unusual for students to graduate with more than 24 credits.”

Since the block schedule allows students to earn up to three more credits in the same amount of time, Jacobs is confident that earning two more will be no problem, and will better prepare students for college or the workforce.

Students still have the option to graduate early, or use their time to earn college credits by dual-enrolling or taking AP courses.

Another bonus of the block system, Jacobs noted, is that there will be more time slots throughout the day to introduce intervention and remedial classes that can help struggling students, or help students earn back credits after they have failed without having to take summer classes.

Ninth graders at Dothan Preparatory Academy will be on a seven-period system.

Dothan City Schools would not be the first to implement a higher credit requirement. High schools in Opelika City Schools and Auburn school districts also implement a 26-credit requirement, likewise increasing the number of elective courses a student can take.

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Follow Michele Forehand on Twitter @micheleforehan1

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