Graduation Requirement Change 2020-2021

 

In 2017 Ursuline Academy formed a Well-Being Task Force to ensure that our students could have more choice and flexibility in their academics to support their interests, strengths, and overall emotional welfare. After a year and a half of research, the Well-Being Task Force proposed a change in our graduation requirements from 28 credits to 26, including an additional Life Skills Class. This change will not impact the classes of 2021 and 2022. 

We studied the requirements of other Independent Schools of the Southwest (ISAS) schools, investigated how this change might affect college acceptances, counseled with the Chair of College Counseling, and reviewed Texas state requirements. With full confidence in the strength of our recommendations, we then presented this proposal to the Academic Council, School Administration, Campus Administration, and Board of Trustees. I am so pleased to announce that it has been approved!

A reduction in graduation requirements will provide choice for our students to pursue electives, to really dive into the subject areas that they are passionate about, and/or to include more free periods in their schedules. We also realize that, to meet particular college entrance requirements, many of our students may choose to take more credits than those required by Ursuline. Each student will have guidance and assistance from their college counselor to ensure they know the requirements of the colleges they are interested in attending.

Each student will also take a life skills class for one semester in both her freshman and junior years with topics including the following:

Freshman

  • Study Skills
  • Speech and Presentation Skills*
  • Social Media Responsibility

*This Life Skills class will replace the former Speech Class requirement.

Junior

  • Finances
  • Self-Defense
  • Interview Skills

The following graduation requirements would be grandfathered in, starting with the Class of 2023:

Department New Current
English 4 4
Theology 4 4
Math 3 4
Science 3 4
Social Studies 4 4
Computer Science 1 1
Fine Arts 1 1
World Language

3 or through level 3

Two years must be taken in high school;
freshmen entering at level 3 will also
need to take level 4.

3
Physical Education 1 1
Electives 1 1.5
Life Skills/Speech Leadership

1

0.5 Freshman Year
0.5 Junior Year

0
TOTAL 26 28


This change will align Ursuline’s graduation requirements more closely to those of other independent schools in the Dallas area. As an independent school, we are accredited by a different organization (ISAS) than the Diocesan schools. At the same time, because we are a Catholic school, Ursuline will always require four years of Theology and continue to follow the Bishop’s Guidelines.

We believe that this change will encourage our students to take more classes that they truly love.  If there are multiple classes in an academic discipline that are of interest to a student, she will now have the opportunity to “double up” and pursue her individual interest.  The change will also help the students who may need a second free period in their schedule in a particular semester during their time at Ursuline.

Education is moving in a more personalized direction. Classes should be taught in many different ways to meet the needs of students who all learn differently. The Ursuline framework and structure of classes should be the same way. With this slight change, students will be able to personalize their schedules to match their passions.

While the change will not impact the classes of 2021 and 2022, they will have the opportunity to take the Junior Life Skills class as an elective. Also, if it fits in their schedule, they can have two free periods, as long as they still complete their 28 graduation requirements.

We understand that there may be questions about this change and the process, so we have created an FAQ page for you. Your student will be informed of this change next week (week of October 21) during their class meeting. If you have any further questions, whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Kayla Brown
Dean of Students

Elizabeth Smith
Dean of Academics