Weber schools to 'highly recommend' formerly required junior high classes

Saturday , September 09, 2017 - 4:00 AM

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — The Weber School District is going the route of “highly recommending” junior high courses the Utah State Board of Education will no longer require.

At a Weber Board of Education meeting Wednesday, Sept. 6, officials said they’ll be changing the wording on course enrollment paperwork and training counselors to highly encourage seventh- and eighth-grade students to enroll in health and college and career readiness courses.

Student Services Director Gina Butters said regardless of the state’s new rule, students should still receive a comprehensive education.

“We want our kids to be well balanced,” she said.

In August, the state board approved no longer requiring physical education, the arts, college and career readiness, and health classes for seventh- and eighth-grade students. Districts are still required to offer the coursework as electives.

A letter from state board Chairman Mark Huntsman and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Syndee Dickson to school district and charter school administrators says the change doesn’t require them to make any changes if its own board doesn’t want to.

“Students are still required to fill their course schedule, so it is anticipated the majority of students would still take the optional courses,” the letter states.

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Butters said the change gives junior high students and their parents more choice in taking elective courses.

Previously, seventh- and eighth-grade students had to take five required credits, leaving room for two elective credits in the Weber School District. Now, seventh-grade students will need to take 3.5 required credits, leaving room for 3.5 elective credits, and eighth-grade students will take four required credits with three elective credits.

Butters said college and career readiness and physical education will be noted as “highly recommended electives” for seventh-grade students, as will personal health, physical education and digital literacy for eighth-grade students.

Counselors are being trained throughout September, and course forms will be changed in time for students to use them when they start registering for next year’s courses in November.

Superintendent Jeff Stephens said the state board’s decision doesn’t mean the courses that aren’t required any more aren’t important.

“That wasn’t their intent,” he said. “Their intent was to recognize they wanted students and families to have a little more flexibility and choice in some of their course offerings so I think what we’ve tried to do is find that balance.”

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports.

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