New Graduation credits prepare Blue Valley students for future success, focus on real-world skills


High School girl laughing in class


Scott Roberts, Blue Valley’s Executive Director of School Administration, and Leah Vomhof, Blue Valley Northwest’s Curriculum and Instruction Associate Principal, answer questions about the changes Blue Valley made to graduation requirements, the process behind the additional requirements and how these requirements benefit students. 


Q: What was the reason for changing the requirements?


Roberts: The Kansas State Board of Education changed graduation requirements statewide, and added a few pieces that for us to get into compliance, we needed to make changes to our requirements. The state added a financial literacy piece, communications piece and STEM electives as requirements. Most of this we already had in our curriculum, so it wasn’t necessarily new for us, but it was new for us to either group them differently or add them as a requirement. We’ve had personal finance in our curriculum for years, but we’ve changed it to financial literacy, and it’s now a requirement. 


Q: What was the process of changing these requirements, and who was involved in these discussions?


Roberts: Anytime we make a change, we are going to get feedback from the community. We talked to groups of teachers, went to building leadership teams, the Curriculum and Instruction Advisory Committee and student groups. 


Vomhof: I met with students at Blue Valley Northwest and asked them a series of questions and got their feedback, which was really helpful. The biggest thing I heard from students was that they felt really strongly about the financial literacy requirements. The other piece I heard was that even though the state changed the physical education requirements to a half credit, students felt strongly that we should keep it as a full credit due to the importance of the health and well-being of our students. 


Q: What changes did Blue Valley make that are different from the state?


Roberts: We kept physical education as a full credit. We still think a four-year comprehensive English-Language Arts credit is important, so we broke the communications credit out as its own credit requirement. The state’s graduation requirements are 21 credits, but we felt 24 credits still worked for our community. 


Q. How will the financial literacy course enhance the high school experience and prepare students for post-graduation?


Vomhof: The financial literacy course will give them information about budgeting and help them think about what a sustainable life looks like with the job they hope to pursue. I think it will build more awareness and have a positive impact. There’s no doubt that their parents are probably talking to them about these topics, but when you have a whole semester class that’s solely focused on financial literacy, I think it’s really exciting to get to think about all the ways that our students will take that knowledge and apply it to their life both right away and in the future. 


Q. Overall, how do you think these graduation requirements will positively impact students?

Vomhof: I think the emphasis on real-world skills, with the financial literacy and communications pieces and post-secondary assets, is trying to encourage our students to start thinking about their future while they’re taking classes here in high school. 


High school boy working on computer