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    Cross-crediting Ethnic Studies Courses to Meet Graduation Requirements
    Posted on 12/10/2019

    Cross-crediting Ethnic Studies Courses to Meet Graduation Requirements

    Seattle Public Schools is dedicated to fulfilling the commitments outlined in our strategic plan, Seattle Excellence, and supporting students of color who are furthest from educational justice graduate ready for college, career, and community participation. This includes taking a hard look at high school graduation and associated credit requirements.

    During Superintendent Juneau’s 2018 Listen and Learn Tour, students of color expressed the need for more ethnic studies course options and the opportunity to learn accurate and truthful histories; histories that celebrate all the peoples of the United States and foster a sense of belonging while simultaneously teaching the history of injustice and current inequities in our country. This was not a new request.

    In 2017, in response to the activism of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), students, families, and educators, the School Board adopted a resolution in support of ethnic studiespdf icon.

    Since that time, an ethnic studies department has been established and a combined citizen and staff task force and work groups were created to develop recommendations, evaluate the status of ethnic studies, and begin developing ethnic studies curricula.

    One idea the Teaching and Learning Department has been exploring is how to cross-credit high school elective courses, like African American literature, to expand student access to ethnic studies. If cross-credited with a core course in an area such as English language arts or social studies, students could take an ethnic studies course and satisfy a core graduation requirement. Over the past several months, the College and Career Readiness team, the ethnic studies program manager, and English language arts and social studies program manager have been meeting to develop a process for moving this important work forward.

    In alignment with our current approach to new course development and cross-crediting, the approved process for identifying and cross-crediting possible ethnic studies courses will begin with teachers. If a high school teacher believes an existing elective course meets the required components of both the ethnic studies framework and one of the core academic subjects required for graduation, that teacher can submit their course for evaluation.

    After the submission period, which is anticipated to conclude by mid-January, an evaluation of submitted courses will be conducted by the ethnic studies program manager, English language arts/social studies program manager, and the College and Career Readiness team in order to determine if the elective course can be reclassified (i.e. cross-credited) to fulfill core academic high school credits and meets the required ethnic studies components. Both managers will have equal opportunity to provide feedback for revision and recommendations for approval. If approved by the aforementioned groups/individuals, the courses will be forwarded to the chief academic officer for final sign-off and the cross-credited courses would be available to fulfill graduation requirements and guide students’ course taking for the 2020-21 school year.

    This is one of many steps the district will be taking to make sure ethnic studies and students’ access to these courses and curricula are well supported. Teacher training and development of curricula will also continue. We are enthusiastic that this approach will provide expanded choices for students when fulfilling their high school credit requirements and help us ensure our teacher-developed ethnic studies courses reach more students in Seattle Public Schools.

    Background: The Seattle Public Schools Board adopted a resolution in support of ethnic studies in 2017 thanks to the activism of students, families, and educators. Led by the NAACP and supported by Seattle Education Association’s Center for Race and Equity, educators have been working to build a program reflective of the needs, demands, and concerns of our community.

    Under the leadership of Tracy Castro-Gill, the district’s ethnic studies program manager, Seattle Public Schools has begun work to expand and improve ethnic studies in the curriculum of its schools.

    Read more about the district’s approach to ethnic studies.

    Read more about the district’s five-year strategic plan, Seattle Excellence.