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The North Carolina Graduation Project synthesizes learning for high school students by applying their knowledge and skills in a culminating project. Students choose a topic of interest and then complete a culminating project which contains four components; a research paper, a product, a portfolio, and a presentation. Through the process of completing a graduation project students learn in depth about an area of study, they interact with mentors or experts in the relevant field, they maintain a portfolio of activities and documents, and they present their findings to a review panel. This comprehensive process is comparable to what students may expect to find in a job, in the military or in higher education.

Now that the state is not requiring the graduation project as an exit
standard, why should we implement it?

Students need opportunities to demonstrate their learning in a comprehensive, authentic way. The graduation project is a vehicle to synthesize learning in an area of interest, involving critical reading, writing, research, and presenting skills. While it cannot guarantee that your students will have all the requisite skills needed to be successful, it does provide students with some of the necessary elements and experiences that they will encounter in "real time" in the workplace.

What assistance will be provided to students for preparing the graduation exit projects? Assistance on giving presentations, etc.?
Each student should have a graduation project advisor who will provide support and technical assistance as the student completes the four components of the Graduation Project. Each school or LEA can determine the process for establishing graduation project advisors.

Will students who are in an apprenticeship program be able to use
apprenticeship as part of their graduation project?

Yes. Apprenticeship, in addition to the other types of work-based learning, can be incorporated into the graduation project.

Will students be able to select their own topics for graduation projects or will these be determined by the school district?
Schools are encouraged to allow students to select their own topics for graduation projects, but topics/ projects usually require approval through the school's graduation project process.

Who will monitor graduation projects?
Each student should have an academic advisor. The school should have a graduation project coordinator and there is generally a graduation project schoolRevised 2011 based committee. Multiple personnel at the school are typically involved in the
graduation project process.

Will students and parents be provided a copy of the grading rubric used for assessing the various components?
Yes. Each school/school system should ensure that both students and parents have access to the rubrics and that they are well informed as to the graduation project requirements.

Who will monitor the community-based aspect of the graduation project?
The student's school level graduation project coordinator will monitor the community-based aspect of the graduation project.

Will the state provide examples of how communities fund mentors and
review panelists to assist with the projects?

No. Typically, mentors and review panelists serve in a voluntary capacity and do not require funding.

If community people will be used in evaluating, will they have training
to assist in identifying the mastered objectives?

Yes. Each school district should establish a training program for community members who will serve as mentors or review panelists.

What type of information should be included in the student portfolio?
Typically, a student's portfolio documents the process the student employed throughout the Graduation Project process. They may be forms, letters, student reflections, paper abstract, etc.

What support will there be for at-risk students?
The graduation project is designed to be a "learning stretch" for all students and as such, schools and LEAs will provide support and assistance.

Can a school system use its existing rubrics to grade graduation projects?
The state developed rubrics may be used or modified. If LEAs and schools modify the state developed rubrics, they should keep in mind the intent of the graduation project as an authentic assessment of a student's ability in an area of their interest.

The CTE Advanced Studies Framework parallels the NC Graduation Project
exit requirements. Could DPI develop rubrics similar to those utilized in CTE Advanced Studies to prevent students (seniors) enrolled in CTE Advanced Studies from having to complete two major projects during their senior year?
Revised 2011

Advanced Studies may be used to complete requirements for the graduation project.

Where will funding come from for the graduation project?
Approximately 70% of LEAs currently require graduation projects as a local exit standard for graduation. These projects are completed without additional funding.

Can the graduation project begin during the ninth grade?
The graduation project should culminate in the senior year and be benchmarked throughout the middle school and high school programs of study. Schools have the flexibility of implementing the graduation project in a variety of program models.

What financial assistance will be available to small, poor school systems?
Low wealth districts receive supplemental low wealth funding.

How are we going to track transfer students to ensure they meet the graduation requirements?
It is up to the LEA how to ensure that transfer students follow the guidelines developed by the school or LEA regarding the graduation project which best meets the students needs as well as local policy.

What happens to the high school student if they do not complete all four components of the graduation project?
If the graduation project is a local exit standard, then students have to complete it to graduate and receive a high school diploma.

Can students complete the graduation project before their senior year?
The graduation project should culminate in the student's senior year.

How is professional development going to be handled for those who are supporting and evaluating graduation projects?
Each high school principal will be responsible for establishing a budget and timeline for staff development, resources, interventions and acceleration methods and programs. LEAs are encouraged to form professional learning communities (PLCs) with other LEAs and collaborate on professional development.

Will there be any funding for students who cannot afford the cost of their
graduation project?

Revised 2011
There is no funding for individual student graduation projects. Each graduation project should be evaluated on its authenticity and evidence of the student's learning.

What implementation models are being employed for the graduation project?
The school district and/or school has the flexibility to implement the graduation project in a variety of ways; such as a separate seminar class, through a particular department (eg English, Science, CTE, etc), across multiple content areas, or any other way that is a best fit for the school in terms of teacher expertise, capacity, and scheduling. Regardless of the model, schools need to implement an authentic
capstone experience for students incorporating a research paper, presentation, portfolio, and product.

How does the NC Graduation Project affect Occupational Course of Study/Life Skills students?
Students qualifying for the Occupational Course of Study are exempt from this requirement. However, many OCS students have conducted a modified project successfully.

Will the state provide specific guidelines/criteria regarding mentor selection?
Schools have different guidelines about students working with mentors. It is advantageous for students to work with experts in their area of research to understand "habits of mind" of a professional and to provide guidance to the student along the way.

Because the state has a diverse student population, may the graduation project be completed in a language other than English? If so, what are the parameters?
Yes. The graduation project may be completed in a students' native language. In addition, a student who has had the opportunity for an articulation sequence of Second Languages studies may choose to do all or part of the graduation project in that language. However, the school-based graduation project committee must ensure that students complete the four components and that all academic advisors, mentors, graduation project panel members are able to comprehend and fairly evaluate the students' graduation project.

Will school districts have the flexibility to modify their school calendars, so that they do not have school on the days of presentation or have a half day?
Schools must provide the 1000 hours of instructional time according to state statute.

Can teachers get CEUs for working on the graduation project teams at their
school since it will take up staff development time?

Revised 2011
The awarding of continuing education credit for a local staff development activity is a local decision.

Will the paper requirement be modified for EC students (LD, BED, etc.)?
Any modifications provided should be aligned to the students' IEP.

Do the high schools have the flexibility to extend the state rubrics?
Yes. Schools are encouraged to utilize the state-endorsed rubrics but can modify, extend, etc. the state-endorsed to aid stakeholder comprehension.

Will the paper rubric specify recommendations such as page number, font, etc?
No. These decisions will be made at the local level.

What are the style/content requirements for the graduation project paper i.e., augmentative?
The APA style is recommended for technical writing; whereas, the MLA is recommended for general research.

How are schools grading (or not) the graduation project?
Depending upon the implementation model, schools are choosing the degree to which grades are incorporated into aspects of the graduation project. Some schools are not grading it, others are incorporated the paper into English III or IV, others are using the project as a culminating unit, and still others are holistically grading as a complete/incomplete.

Can the four component grades be averaged with one another or into separate courses?
This is a local decision.

What systems do schools have in place to ensure the fidelity of implementing the graduation project?
Graduation project coordinators ensure the fidelity through some of the following efforts: providing a timeline to students of due dates, consistent feedback, involving the entire school staff as advisors, review panel judges, peer review of work, aligning the student's work to the Standard Course of Study, conducting surveys and interviews of students, etc.

What types of activities do school utilize to garner community support for the graduation project?
Many LEAs utilize public service announcements, showcase student work, involve community leaders as part of the review panel, present on the local news or radio shows, etc. in order to garner community support.

If you cannot find the information you need please contact Elissa Brown