New graduation requirements inflate coursework for already stressed students


Infographic by Claire Redmer ’21

The new requirements are aiming to prepare students for their futures and give local school systems the flexibility to create “a wide variety of learning pathways.” The changes to the Staples requirements are pending Board of Ed approval.

Claire Redmer ’21, Social Media Director

As a student at Staples, I am in an environment in which striving to take the most intense classes possible is no rarity. This characteristic of the community has become especially noticeable during the time of choosing courses. Throughout the past week, I have heard many kids expressing their desire to take APs and honors classes next year. This is often because they feel they have to, even if they are going to be constantly overwhelmed by the workload and may not even enjoy the subject that they are working so hard in. The new graduation requirements would only intensify this issue, as they increase coursework and they would adversely alter the lasting impact of a high school education.

In line with updated state requirements, Staples has proposed a new set of fundamental courses that would be enacted for the class of 2023. These changes would include adding a third required credit of science, as well as taking away one half of a credit of PE, art and social studies. The current six extra elective requirement would be changed to 2.5 open electives, three extra science, technology, engineering or mathematics electives and one chosen humanities elective.

This change is not a positive one for several reasons. There are many benefits to the old requirements that will be stripped away in favor of pushing kids towards STEM and therefore restricting the classes they can choose to take as their additional credits.

The biggest benefit from school is mastering the ability to learn, as well as attaining the skills necessary for adulthood. In many ways, science classes can’t offer these skills in the same way other subjects can.

Science classes are centered around studying concepts, facts and principles, and largely don’t emphasize skills that can be applied in life as an adult unless your career field of choice is in a science. On the other hand, subjects such as social studies or English can provide a student with these important aspects that accompany an education. Ultimately, the biggest asset a student receives in school are the skills that allow success in the real world or in higher education—largely skills developed outside of STEM classes.

In addition, by taking away some of these courses that students consider more relaxing or easier—arts and gym—and replacing them with academic courses, students will take on a more challenging workload. This causes a slew of issues including stress and lack of sleep, both of which decrease student performance.  

Students already push themselves to take the most challenging workload possible and are usually swayed by the atmosphere and pressure that comes in the Staples community. Most students do not want to take four APs, each with two hours of homework a night—they feel it’s necessary. Taking away other required classes that assign less work will only exacerbate student stress.

Overall, the addition of new requirements that push students towards STEM and away from alternative classes is a poor change that adds stress and fails to honor the true value of a high school education.