New graduation requirements required by the State of Michigan are giving faculty pause to re-evaluate several classes the school will offer beginning this fall.
As part of the Michigan Merit Curriculum passed by the state in 2006, freshmen students, beginning with the Class of 2016, will be required to take two credits in a world language course.
Currently the school offers students the option of enrolling in two to four years of a world language class (Spanish, French and German).
"Can you fulfill the world language requirement in middle school? Yes, but it's a little more complicated," DHS Principal Kit Moran told the Dexter Board of Education at its meeting on Monday. "It requires a determination of competency, not just a passing grade."
Moran said faculty have not developed a tool to measure competency in the language but indicated verbal tests and other outside measurements might be available in the future.
Board Vice President Michael Wendorf said he supports the curriculum change but asked whether or not schools can quantify the value of requiring a foreign language.
"Are we offering enough choices? Are we encouraging our students enough? Is there a value we can articulate to parents why we are dong this?" he asked.
Moran said he believes foreign language education produces well-rounded graduates who will be exposed to a diversity of cultures in the workplace.
"We live in a country made up of 3 million people, which is only a small part of the 7 billion worldwide," he said.
Trustee Julie Schumaker requested the board review recommendations from the district's curriculum committee to determine whether or not other languages such as American Sign Language, Mandarin or Arabic should be added as well.
"If we are going to expose a whole new group of students to the foreign language track, I think it's appropriate to look at whether or not we are offering the appropriate languages for students," she said.
To help lighten the load of required classes for students (the Class of 2016 will be required to complete 22 out of 24 credits), Moran also proposed eliminating a half credit physical education elective requirement beginning in the fall.
Currently DHS requires a half credit Lifetime Fitness class, a half credit of physical education, and a half credit of health and wellness. The Michigan Merit Curriculum only requires a fitness and health and wellness class.
The Board of Education will vote on the proposed changes at their meeting on April 23. For more information, visit www.dexterschools.org.