Thanks to a new state law, students no longer need to take one year of in-house gym to graduate.
The 2011-2012 Program Planning Guide states that, “students may use irregularly earned credits (independent study . . . and the like) to satisfy the state’s minimum graduation requirements.”
This new law requires public schools to offer “credit flexibility,” which allows students to earn credit for high school courses without receiving classroom instruction or accumulating “seat time.” The law applies to any course. Shaker students have already been allowed to complete one year of physical education through independent study and one year in-house. With the new law, students will no longer have to take physical education with a Shaker teacher.
Flex credits are graded on a pass/fail basis. Students have four months to complete each independent study by spending 20 hours with an instructor and accumulating 40 hours of additional practice. Completing these 60 hours earns one-half unit of credit. Along with the required hours, each independent study involves submitting an essay before and after the credit is completed. All independent studies must be completed by the end of first semester of students’ senior year.
Freshman figure skater Cassandra Wood benefits from flex credits because she practices every morning from 7- 8:30 a.m. then comes to school second period. Wood said that independent study allows her more time to focus on school work because she does not have to skate after school. “I’m not taking away time for homework and I still get to skate,” Wood said.
Physical Education Department Chairman Stuart Gilbert said that because flex credits require a lot of additional time and writing, they require a high level of maturity. He said, “It’s a personal choice, but with personal choice comes personal responsibility.”
A version of this article appeared in print on 14 December 2011, on page 2 of The Shakerite.