Reshaping Requirements

New graduation requirements are being implemented for students in the classes of 2016-2019


For the students in the classes of 2016-2019, the West Bloomfield High School (WBHS) graduation requirements are changing. There are two different changes: The first is our computer credit which was an antiquated requirement in light of our technology initiatives and the second involves foreign language credits.  Mara Hoffert, Associate Principal, states, “There are two different changes: the computer credit was a credit that we kept in addition to… the Michigan Department of Education curriculum… We kept it for a while because computer skills are very important for students who are going on to college.” Due to the pervasive implementation of technology in the West Bloomfield School District, the school district felt the computer credit inadequate. Hoffert outlines, “What we have done this year [2014-2015 school year] is going to the one-on-one device [chromebooks], and having all the hybrid options. Teachers and students embracing the one-on-one technology, the google platform, all of the things you’re doing in all of your classes. When we [the counseling department] saw all of that, we see that that computer knowledge is really prevalent in almost all of your classes,… being kind of weaved in.” Seeing this, the counseling department came to the conclusion that “If you’re learning those skills, and you’re in an environment where you have to learn those skills, we’re meeting that need.”

The implementation of technology removes the need for students to have an additional computers credit and students can choose different electives instead. “We wanted to open up more choice for students,” Hoffert states, “We want to give students as much choice as possible while they’re here to explore things so that before they get to college they might have an idea of what they want to dabble in.” For students who are interested in taking computer classes, those classes are still available. Hoffert explains, “We did… keep the computers class, we just gave it a little bit of a face lift. It’s called Digital Computing. That class is more of how do you use the things we use in school – the google platform: How do you use social media? How do you still use and Excel spreadsheet? A Word document? These skills are so important for college, and a lot of college technological skills you’re going to see are the stuff you’re learning with your hybrid chromebooks.” Although the computer credit is being removed, it still needs to be filled by an elective. “We didn’t take away a credit,” Hoffert describes, “We just took away it having to be a computer credit. You still have to do an elective credit, but you get choice.”

The second change regards the required foreign language credits. Hoffert explains the issue with these credits for students: “The state implemented the two year language requirement, [and] that was hurting some of our students. We have a very high achieving student population with a very high graduation rate [of students] that go to college. However,… a number of colleges don’t require students to have two years of a foreign language to gain acceptance. We are a very rigorous school and so to put on to a lot of students ‘well you have to have two years of a foreign language’, when they didn’t necessarily have to… means that they were struggling with a foreign language . [Taking foreign language meant] they had another academic course and they couldn’t take an elective they were interested in; that limited their choices.” The change to the world language credits stems from a law the state of Michigan passed. Hoffert explains, “The state… last summer passed a law that let schools have the option: they could do two years of a foreign language or they could do a year of foreign language and either a CTE course, which is career technical education, or an additional fine arts credit. If we already have a required fine arts credit, and if they have to have another fine arts credit to fulfill the credit, well really, that still is rigor. For instance, if you take 3-D Art Foundations and you also take Art Foundations – the two intro art classes. If you want to [fulfill the credit] with an art class, you’re going to have to move up now. You now have the prerequisites and can move up to beginning drawing, or beginning ceramics, beginning photography; you have to go more rigorous in the scope.” Besides fine arts, students can also take Career Technical Education courses in the business department. Hoffert states, “CTE courses in the business department are options: Students going into business who want to take more business classes now have the option to do that instead of foreign language.” Together, these changes help students and follow WBHS’s goals for students. “What we see,” Hoffert shares, “is how can students have a rigorous experience here, keep the integrity of our transcripts, make sure we’re a competitive school, give our students as much choice as possible, and meet their graduation requirements.”

Hoffert believes this change will be very beneficial for students for one very important reason: “Choice: it helps studentst o feel connected to WBHS because they feel like they have some stake in their high school career. We still advise students to take at least two years of foreign language, because that’s what competitive colleges like to see. But for students who want to go to some schools, such as Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University – very good, very rigorous colleges – they might say ‘I want to go there but what I want to do is instead of foreign language I want to take another course.’ Then they feel happier and connected to the community here.”

With the new changes comes new opportunities for students to explore different career pathways and discover what field they are interested in pursuing.