The Graduation Project contains four parts:
- Paper - Formal research essay: Usually completed during the 11th
- Product - Service Learning Experience: May be completed in 11th or 12th grade year
- Presentation - Oral presentation to panel of judges: Usually completed during the 12th grade year
- Portfolio - Collect evidence of effort put forth - Ongoing collection of artifacts
Evaluation of the graduation project is based on the four components above. Therefore, students must successfully complete each component of the graduation project to receive a high school diploma.
Successful graduation project programs at the local level are developed and owned by the entire school and community. There is no one size fits all format for implementation. However, there should be clear evidence of the following framework essentials:
- Commitment to high student accountability in all phases of the process.
- Commitment to the Three Rs—Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships.
- Alignment of project content with state and district curricula content goals and objectives.
- Integration of knowledge, skills, and performance across all disciplines.
- Commitment to annual reflection, review, and adjustment of the process.
- Usage of 6-12 benchmarking to better ensure adequate student preparation.
- Support and engagement of community members and all school faculty and staff.
- Leadership and direction from district and individual school administrators who are focused and strong.
Because of the multifaceted, multidisciplinary nature of the graduation project, it is not intended to be housed within one classroom or content area. Although the project culminates in the graduating year, it is benchmarked throughout a student's middle school and secondary school experience, necessitating involvement from the entire program faculty. Graduation project program guidelines should allow for flexibility and input from various stakeholders. Guidelines should provide the opportunity to foster student-teacher relationships, nurture the exploration of new ideas, and encourage student-centered lifelong learning.
Expectations for implementation of the Graduation Project include the following:
- All juniors and seniors are to participate.
- Principals are to establish a steering committee to help implement and monitor the project.
- All parents and students are to be uniformly informed.
- All seniors are expected to maintain a project notebook which they assembled as sophomores and juniors.
- All faculty members are expected to serve as advisors, as needed.
- All mentors should receive training.
- All Review Board members should receive training.
- School results will be reviewed for consistency of evaluation.
- Principals are responsible for monitoring the appropriate implementation of the project.