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CMS Ends Graduation Projects But Says Research Will Continue


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board abolished the district's graduation project Tuesday. But district leaders say they won’t stop pushing students to learn research and presentation skills. 

The driving force behind Tuesday’s vote is a law passed this fall requiring districts to reimburse low-income students for costs associated with the required research, public service and presentation. Board members and administrators said the cost and administrative burden made such projects impractical.

They say the next task is figuring out how to preserve the best parts of that work while scrapping the parts that are confusing or unnecessary.

"Research is crucial for students to learn while they’re with us in CMS," said board member Rhonda Cheek, whose three children have done graduation projects. "Doing dioramas and projects that require some artistic and creative skills may not necessarily benefit every one of our students."

Until Tuesday’s vote, CMS required graduates to do a junior research paper and a senior service project, compile a portfolio and do an oral presentation to a panel of community members. Kendall Sanders, a Northwest School of the Arts senior who serves as the board’s adviser, said that leaves room for interpretation.

"It doesn’t really seem to be clear what the project should actually consist of," she said. "There’s a lot of different things at different schools, so I do approve of the recommended change."

The fast-track unanimous vote means the project won’t be required for a CMS diploma, starting with the 2020 midyear graduation.