ISBE Relaxes High School Graduation Requirements, Working On Digital Divide For Remaining Students

By Benjamin Cox on May 11, 2020 at 9:30am

Illinois high school seniors have faced a lot of uncertainty relating to academics moving into the Fall. The Illinois State Board of Education was faced with statutes governing those academics surrounding graduation. ISBE Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Jennifer Kirmes said in a Zoom Conference with WLDS News on Friday that some graduation requirements had to be relaxed when it came to core curriculum. “The core academic unit requirements for graduation are spelled out in statute. I believe it was Section 11 of the governor’s executive order did suspend that particular portion of the statute and we implemented an emergency amendment to part 1 or our administrative rules that in essence reduces each of those specific unit requirements by one semester. For example, the state, while in a typical year requires 4 units of English as the minimum graduation requirement; for students graduating in 2020, that requirement at the state level is 3.5 units. This was true across all of those requirements that they were reduced by one semester, because it was 1 semester that was effected by the current situation.”

Kirmes says the emergency rule will last as long as the state disaster proclamation is in place. “If the disaster proclamation lasts through summer, then summer graduates can be held to these modified standards as well. These modifications really last as long as the disaster proclamation period lasts. Beyond graduation requirements, ISBE is working on admission guidance, which we will release very soon and obviously be working in conjunction with the governor’s 5-phase plan. We will help districts prepare for what education will look like moving forward.”

Kirmes says it’s a very fluid situation for the fall right now. She says that ISBE is always taking into account the life, health, and safety of students and staff. Kirmes says that ISBE is working currently to address the digital divide among households because the pandemic has made connectivity for students around the state as apparent as ever with e-learning objectives at home. She says more announcements about ISBE’s plans for the Fall and the digital issues for students will be made in the coming weeks.