8-11-14: Team continues study of rigorous academic program options
8-11-14: Team continues study of rigorous academic program options
Posted on 08/11/2014

An advisory committee that has been studying highly rigorous academic program options as possible alternatives to the traditional high school experience resumes its work this month and will report to the school board in October.

The 17-member High School Academic Options Lead Team, made up of community members, students, and educators, began meeting last May and is scheduled to submit a progress report to the Puyallup School Board on October 20.

Members have been discussing a wide variety of possible academic options in categories such as science and math, vocational and civil services, college preparatory programs, arts and creative technologies, and social sciences.

“It has to be something special to complement our high school programs,” said Brian Lowney, chief academic officer of Regional Learning Community #3 and a district representative on the committee.

The committee’s work will be a district focus, rather than specific to any one particular school or region, Lowney said.

During its last meeting in June, the committee discussed the importance of asking for community input on the various program options before submitting its report to the school board. Once decided, opportunities to provide input will be announced on the school district website.

As part of its work, the committee has heard reports from district leadership about relevant topics such as districtwide enrollment projections, demographics, and the number of in-district and out-of-district waivers.

The committee learned, for example, that some students apply for out-of-district waivers to other schools or programs to participate in academic options not offered in Puyallup, such as International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

A separate study group formed last year and made up of junior high and high school educators will continue to meet this fall to explore the possibility of initiating an IB program in Puyallup, Lowney said.

The High School Academic Options Lead Team has also researched the number of district students enrolled part time and full time in Running Start.

Running Start is a statewide community college program for academically-qualified high school juniors and seniors. Eligible students enroll in courses to fulfill high school graduation requirements and earn college credit.