Change takes effect with current freshman class that will graduate in 2017

    Memo to members of the current freshmen class at Crookston High School: You're going to have to put in a little more work if you hope to graduate in 2017.   

    The Crookston School Board this week approved the addition of one more required academic credit, from 23 to 24, in order for a CHS senior to graduate. The increase takes effect with the graduating class of 2017.   

    The change was spurred in part by Superintendent Chris Bates' research cohort he's formed with approximately 20 other school districts of similar size in Minnesota. He asked the districts to detail their graduation requirements and found that Crookston's credit requirement was lower, and sometimes significantly lower than other districts on the list.   

    On average, Crookston, at 23 credits required for graduation, is 1.6 credits less than the average of the group. But some of the districts like Perham and Waubun, which Bates said likely use a four-block day instead of seven periods like Crookston, require 28 credits to graduate. Thief River Falls, also with a block schedule, requires the most on the list, 29 credits.   

    So does that mean that, over a four-year high school career, students in those districts are required to pass 12 more classes than a student at CHS? Not likely, Bates said. A four-block day adds up to eight credits a year, which totals 32 over four years.    

    "That would be the maximum available in Thief River, for example, so they're asking that their kids successfully complete 29 credits," he explained. "For us, with seven periods, that adds up to 28 over a four-year career, and we'll now be asking for 24. Our kids could get 28, but we're asking for 24. It's not that we or anyone else is encouraging kids not to pass classes, but they could graduate if they don't pass one."   

    Most likely, a CHS student would earn the additional credit via an elective class, but Bates didn't rule out a student taking an additional course in a core subject like math or science.   

    Board chair Frank Fee said if the additional credit ramps up academic rigor taken on by seniors, it's a good thing.