Differences in diplomas cause confusion

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photo by Jake Burton

Ryan O'Connor, Staff Reporter

The toughest part of getting a high school diploma is usually passing all your classes, but for seniors this year, the toughest part seems to be trying to get the diploma that they want. The school district has offered students four diploma options: SCPS Scholars with Distinction, State Scholars Diploma Pathway, State Standard Diploma Pathway and State Merit Diploma Pathway.
However, confusion soon arose between the Scholars with Distinction and State Scholars diplomas, which hold different requirements. The State Scholars is one of the diplomas that the state of Florida offers with the highest requirements and was the diploma that many seniors saw as the best that the school has to offer. However, the State Scholars was not even an available diploma until November, when it was released to the county principals at a district meeting.
“The superintendent of Seminole County Public Schools decided to make the diploma option available to seniors, and principals were told to release the information at an assembly before December was over,” principal Mary Williams said.
Williams also said that the district wanted current seniors to take their EOCs in December, but the principals requested more time for students to prepare.
The new diploma is causing much of the chaos for seniors. Even though it has the same requirements as the previous diplomas in Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts and Physical Education credits, the diploma differs on World Languages where it requires students to have two credits of a foreign language class, and have an unweighted 2.0 GPA. The confusion stems from the GPA requirements, as the State Scholars diploma is viewed as more prestigious than the county Scholars with Distinction diploma, but the GPA for the State Scholars is lower.
“The different diplomas are an option as result of what courses students take and what scores they get on EOCs,” guidance counselor Charlotte Barolet said.
However, further confusion soon came up between the requirements for State Scholars and Scholars with Distinction and what requirements were needed for which diploma. The details of the county Scholars with Distinction were mentioned freshmen year but many seniors feel that they were not well informed over the years following. Many students went through the trials of AP classes thinking they were going to obtain the Scholars with Distinction diploma, only to have the state come out with a new diploma that will require students to take EOCs. These EOCs for many of the seniors are in classes they took freshmen year.
“I thought it was kind of ridiculous that they were making all of us retake EOCs if we wanted that sticker,” senior Karina Yap said.
Originally the EOCs that the seniors would have to take were going to be held in Decemeber. However, the SCPS principals pointed out that students would not have enough time to prepare for the tests. They decided to offer EOCs in May so that the students would be able to study for classes that many have not had since their freshmen year.
“I wasn’t going to try for it cause it seemed kind of unimportant. I just kind of wish they thought it through more when they set up the diplomas,” senior Paige Bundy said.
Another reason that many seniors have been confused about the differences between the two diplomas, State Scholars and Scholars with Distinction, is that the school attempted to explain these options in a January assembly, halfway through their final school year. The school held a meeting which marked the distinctions between all four diplomas and the different classes and tests needed to obtain them. The explanation by the school led many students to see the distinction between the two as only a sticker and and thought it was not worth it to take the EOCs for seniors.
“I don’t want to have to take it again just to get a sticker that may or may not mean anything in the future,” senior Jacqlyn Shiery said.

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