PCSSD - 4.45: Smart Core Curriculum and Graduation Requirements for the Classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020

4.45: Smart Core Curriculum and Graduation Requirements for the Classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020

All students are required to participate in the Smart Core curriculum unless their parents or guardians, or the students if they are eighteen (18) years of age or older, sign a Smart Core Waiver Form to not participate. While Smart Core is the default option, both a Smart Core Informed Consent Form and a Smart Core Waiver Form will be sent home with students prior to their enrolling in seventh (7th) grade, or when a seventh (7th) through twelfth (12th) grade student enrolls in the district for the first time and there is not a signed form in the student’s permanent record. Parents must sign one of the forms and return it to the school so it can be placed in the students’ permanent record. This policy is to be included in student handbooks for grades six (6) through twelve (12) and both students and parents must sign an acknowledgement they have received the policy. Those students not participating in the Smart Core curriculum will be required to fulfill the Core curriculum or the requirements of their IEP (when applicable) to be eligible for graduation. Counseling by trained personnel shall be available to students and their parents or legal guardians prior to the time they are required to sign the consent forms.

While there are similarities between the two curriculums, following the Core curriculum may not qualify students for some scholarships and admission to certain colleges could be jeopardized. Students initially choosing the Core curriculum may subsequently change to the Smart Core curriculum providing they would be able to complete the required course of study by the end of their senior year. Students wishing to change their choice of curriculums must consult with their counselor to determine the feasibility of changing paths.

This policy, the Smart Core curriculum, and the courses necessary for graduation shall be reviewed by staff, students, and parents as part of the annual school district support plan development process to determine if changes need to be made to better serve the needs of the district’s students. The superintendent, or his/her designee, shall select the composition of the review panel.

Sufficient information relating to Smart Core and the district’s graduation requirements shall be communicated to parents and students to ensure their informed understanding of each. This may be accomplished through any or all of the following means:

  • Inclusion in the student handbook of the Smart Core curriculum and graduation requirements;

  • Discussion of the Smart Core curriculum and graduation requirements at the school’s annual public meeting, PTA meetings, or a meeting held specifically for the purpose of informing the public on this matter;

  • Discussions held by the school’s counselors with students and their parents; and/or

  • Distribution of a newsletter(s) to parents or guardians of the district’s students.

Administrators, or their designees, shall train newly hired employees, required to be licensed as a condition of their employment, regarding this policy. The district’s annual professional development shall include the training required by this paragraph.

To the best of its ability, the District shall follow the requirements covering the transfer of course credit and graduation set forth in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children for all students who meet the definition of “eligible child” in Policy 4.2—Entrance Requirements.

Graduation Requirements

The number of units students must earn to be eligible for high school graduation is to be earned from the categories listed below. A minimum of twenty-two (22) units is required for graduation for a student participating in either the Smart Core or Core curriculum. The additional required units may be taken from any electives offered by the district. There are some distinctions made between Smart Core units and Graduation units. Not all units earned toward graduation necessarily apply to Smart Core requirements.

All students must receive a passing score on the Arkansas Civics Exam in order to graduate.

Digital Learning Courses

The District shall offer one or more digital learning course(s) through one or more District approved provider(s) as either a primary or supplementary method of instruction. The courses may be in a blended learning, online-based, or other technology-based format. In addition to the other graduation requirements contained in this policy, students are required to take at least one (1) digital learning course for credit while in high school.

SMART CORE: Sixteen (16) units

English: four (4) units – 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Oral Communications: one-half (½) unit

Mathematics: four (4) units (all students under Smart Core must take a mathematics course in grade 11 or 12 and complete Algebra II.)

  1. Algebra I or Algebra A & B* which may be taken in grades 7-8 or 8-9;

  2. Geometry or Geometry A & B* which may be taken in grades 8-9 or 9-10;

*A two-year algebra equivalent or a two-year geometry equivalent may each be counted as two units of the four-unit requirement for the purpose of meeting the graduation requirement, but only serve as one unit each toward fulfilling the Smart Core requirement.

  1. Algebra II; and

  2. The fourth unit may be either:

  • A math unit approved by ADE beyond Algebra II; or

  • A computer science flex credit may be taken in the place of a fourth math credit.

Natural Science: a total of three (3) units with lab experience chosen from

  • One unit of Biology; and either:
  • Two units chosen from the following three categories (there are acceptable options listed by the ADE for each):
    • Physical Science;

    • Chemistry;

    • Physics; or

  • One unit from the three categories above and a computer science flex credit may be taken in the place of a third science credit.

Social Studies: three (3) units

  • Civics - one-half (½) unit

  • World History - one unit

  • American History - one unit

  • Other social studies – one-half (½) Unit

Physical Education: one-half (½) unit

Note: While one-half (½) unit is required for graduation, no more than one (1) unit may be applied toward fulfilling the necessary units to graduate.

Health and Safety: one-half (½) unit

Economics – one half (½) unit – dependent upon the licensure of the teacher teaching the course, this can count toward the required three (3) social studies credits or the six (6) required Career Focus elective credits.8

Fine Arts: one-half (½) unit

CAREER FOCUS: - Six (6) units

All career focus unit requirements shall be established through guidance and counseling based on the student’s contemplated work aspirations.  Career focus courses shall conform to the curriculum policy of the district and reflect state curriculum frameworks through course sequencing and career course concentrations where appropriate.

A student who enlists in a branch of the United States Armed Forces or the National Guard through the military delayed entry program, the National Guard Split Training Option, or other similar early entry program and completes basic training before graduating from high school shall receive two (2) units of the Career Focus graduation requirements.

a student who completes at least seventy-five (75) clock hours of documented community service in grades nine (9) through twelve (12) at any certified service agency or a part of a service-learning school program shall receive one (1) Career Focus credit.

CORE: Sixteen (16) units

English: four (4) units – 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Oral Communications: one-half (½) unit

Mathematics: four (4) units

  • Algebra or its equivalent* - 1 unit

  • Geometry or its equivalent* - 1 unit

  • All math units must build on the base of algebra and geometry knowledge and skills.

  • (Comparable concurrent credit college courses may be substituted where applicable)

  • A computer science flex credit may be taken in the place of a math credit beyond Algebra I and Geometry

*A two-year algebra equivalent or a two-year geometry equivalent may each be counted as two units of the four (4) unit requirement.

Science: three (3) units

  • at least one (1) unit of biology or its equivalent; and

  • Two units chosen from the following three categories:
    • Physical Science;

    • Chemistry;

    • Physics; or

    • One unit from the three categories above and a computer science flex credit may be taken in the place of a third science credit.

Social Studies: three (3) units

  • Civics one-half (½) unit

  • World history, one (1) unit

  • American History, one (1) unit

  • Other social studies – one-half (½) unit

Physical Education: one-half (½) unit

Note: While one-half (½) unit is required for graduation, no more than one (1) unit may be applied toward fulfilling the necessary units to graduate.

Health and Safety: one-half (½) unit

Economics – one half (½) unit – dependent upon the licensure of the teacher teaching the course, this can count toward the required three (3) social studies credits or the six (6) required Career Focus elective credits.8

Fine Arts: one-half (½) unit

CAREER FOCUS: - Six (6) units

All career focus unit requirements shall be established through guidance and counseling based on the student’s contemplated work aspirations. Career focus courses shall conform to the curriculum policy of the district and reflect state curriculum frameworks through course sequencing and career course concentrations where appropriate.

A student who enlists in a branch of the United States Armed Forces or the National Guard through the military delayed entry program, the National Guard Split Training Option, or other similar early entry program and completes basic training before graduating from high school shall receive two (2) units of the Career Focus graduation requirements.

A student who completes at least seventy-five (75) clock hours of documented community service in grades nine (9) through twelve (12) at any certified service agency or a part of a service-learning school program shall receive one (1) Career Focus credit.


Cross References:

  • 4.55—Student Promotion and Retention
  • 5.2—Planning for Educational Improvement
  • 5.11—Digital Learning Courses
  • 5.12—Computer Science Internships and Independent Studies
  • 5.16—Computer Science Course Prerequisites and Progression

Legal References:

  • Standards for Accreditation 1-C.2, 1-C.2.1, 1-C.2.2, 1-C.2.3
  • ADE Guidelines for the Development of Smart Core Curriculum Policy
  • ADE Rules Governing Distance and Digital Learning
  • Smart Core Informed Consent Form 2018
  • Smart Core Waiver Form 2016
  • Commissioner’s Memo LS-18-082
  • A.C.A. § 6-4-302
  • A.C.A. § 6-16-149
  • A.C.A. § 6-16-150
  • A.C.A. § 6-16-1406

Date Adopted:  10/16/17

Last Revised:  9/10/18