Q&A: How will the North Carolina Graduation
Project Affect Me?

Click here to download the DCS Graduation Project Handbook  

   


Questions
1)  How long will I have to complete the Graduation Project?
2)  What are the four components?
3)  How expensive is the Graduation Project?
4)  Who is available at my school to help me complete the Graduation Project?
5)  How do I choose a topic?
6)  Can I change my topic once the initial Proposal Form is approved?
7)  Do I have to meet with my mentor for a minimum of fifteen hours?
8)  Can a family member be my mentor?
9)  What if my mentor moves or can no longer help me?
10)  I work after school. Will this require a lot of after school work?
11)  Will we have set deadlines?
12)  Can I work ahead of the suggested timeline?
13)  Who will approve my Proposal Form?
14)  What happens if my component does not pass after my first submission?
15)  Will I receive a grade on this project?
16)  What if I cannot afford to purchase the thank you notes, a notebook, page protectors, and a tri-fold board for my portfolio and the Boards Night presentation?
17)  How can I find an expert in the field?
18)  I do not have a computer at home. How can I type my research paper?
19)  I do not have a flash drive to store my information. What can I do?
20)  Why is the Graduation Project in English IV?
 
Answers
1)  Q How long will I have to complete the Graduation Project?
A
Following the Graduation Project Summer Session in June 2011, Davidson County Schools decided to place the entirely of the project (all four components) in English IV. Therefore, the bulk of the project is to be completed the semester students have English IV. However, students may elect to begin working with their mentors and begin working on their products their junior year. This is subject to the student's proposal form being approved by either their school's Graduation Project Coordinator, English IV teacher, or steering committee.
2)  Q What are the four components?
A
Students complete a four to seven page research paper (not including the Works Cited pagel), create a product that emerges from their research, compile a self-reflective portfolio that contains evidence of their project, and present a five-ten minute presentation to a panel of community members.
3)  Q How expensive is the Graduation Project?
A
Some of our very best projects have had little or no expense. In fact, projects which seem costly are discouraged and require prior approval from parents. The best projects reflect student creativity and a willingness to help others. Graduation Project Coordinators have extra notebooks, page protectors, and tri-fold boards for students who need them. Most high schools have digital cameras and digital flip video cameras for students to check out for their proof of progress photos.
4)  Q Who is available at my school to help me complete the Graduation Project?
A
Each student will be assigned an academic advisor with whom they can meet during remediation time. A student's English II, III, and IV teachers will also help as they will write their research paper, compile their portfolio, and practice their presentation in their English IV class. The English departments also offer weekly after school writing centers. Graduation Project Coordinators and media center staff are also wonderful resources for help when choosing and narrowing down a topic and locating resources. The Career Development Counselor can also help locate a mentor and develop a list of possible careers to explore as part of the project.
5)  Q How do I choose a topic?
A
The first thing to consider when choosing a topic for the Graduation Project is what interests you. Which types of issues, activities, and/or careers would you like to learn about more? Often students have an interest that develops into a project with the help of their academic advisor and/or school Graduation Project coordinator. Academic advisors and Graduation Project coordinators can help you narrow the list to possible topics that can be researched extensively and in depth and help you focus on those that either benefit society or offer you significant personal growth. The project idea will grow with you. Other considerations will be "Who can be my mentor?" and "Who is an expert in this field that I can interview?" You will also consider your product from this research. How will it benefit society or offer significant personal growth for yourself? Will there be any expense? If so, you need to outline a complete budget. Since the county does not fund your project, you must look at this expense realistically. Great projects can be completed on a minimal budget. Your parents and Academic Advisors will approve your Proposal Form. Click here for some project ideas. Your academic advisor will also have sample of 21st Century Skills projects.

6)  Q Can I change my topic once the initial Proposal Form is approved?
A
Yes. You can submit a new Proposal Form with your parents’ approval. After discussing the topic change with your Academic Advisor, and with approval, you may begin your new topic. The main consideration is the time frame. Since you will be beginning completely over, you must be realistic and make sure that you can complete the four components while in enrolled in English IV.
7)  Q Do I have to meet with my mentor for a minimum of fifteen hours?
A

No, the guidelines require a minimum of fifteen hours to complete the product. This simply means that we expect more than a weekend project. You will record the dates and times that you work on your product with your mentor as well as the time you work on the product independently. Your mentor will advise and guide you through the process, but the mentor is not expected to help you complete the product. This is your responsibility. Your mentor can advise you through email, by phone, or in face-to-face meetings.

8)  Q Can a family member be my mentor?
A
No. The guidelines state that anyone from the community who is 21 years of age or older and is considered to be an expert in the field a student is researching for the project may serve as a graduation project mentor. The mentor may not be an immediate family member.
9)  Q What if my mentor moves or can no longer help me?
A
You can choose another mentor and ask him/her to complete the mentor contract. Once your parents sign the new contract, give it to your Academic Advisor for approval. You will display both mentor contracts in your portfolio.
10)  Q I work after school. Will this require a lot of after school work?
A
With remediation periods built into the school day, you will have time each week to work on your research paper, portfolio, and presentation. Your product will require after school work. Many students meet with their mentors on teacher workdays as well!
11)  Q Will we have set deadlines?
A
Yes, each component of the Graduation Project is embedded into English IV. Your English teacher will inform you as to the deadlines for each item.
12)  Q Can I work ahead of the suggested timeline?
A
Because the Graduation Project components are grades for your English IV class, they need to be completed during the semester you have English IV. Discuss options with your English teacher.
13)  Q Who will approve my Proposal Form?
A
Your Academic Advisor is teamed with two other Academic Advisors. As a team they, or the Graduation Project Steering Committee at your school, will approve your Proposal Form.
14)  Q What happens if my component does not pass after my first submission?
A

You will revise your component and address the areas that are noted as the corresponding rubric. Your Academic Advisor can help you with the revision as well as your English IV teachers. Once you correct these areas, you will resubmit the component for evaluation.

15)  Q Will I receive a grade on this project?
A
Yes, each component will be graded using the corresponding DCS Graduation Project Rubrics found in the handbook. English IV grade books should contain the following percentages and categories: 55% Tests, 30% Daily Work/Quizzes, 15% Graduation Project. Product grades are counted as two test grades. Presentations (those graded by the English IV teacher) and final Portfolio grades are one test grade each in English IV. The 15% Graduation Project category is to contain research mile markers and Portfolio components the first nine weeks of the semester. The 15% Graduation Project category is to contain the final draft of the Research Paper/Annotated Bibliography the second nine weeks of the semester.
16)  Q What if I cannot afford to purchase the thank you notes, a notebook, page protectors, and a tri-fold board for my portfolio and the Boards Night presentation?
A
Your Academic Advisor will make sure that you have the necessary supplies and materials if you discuss this concern with him/her in private. Some of our local civic groups donate supplies, some seniors donate extra items to the underclassmen, and your graduation project coordinators also have a supply of these materials.
17)  Q How can I find an expert in the field?
A
Your Academic Advisor and mentor will have suggestions. You can ask your Career Development Counselor in Student Services for help. Check out the websites of local community colleges and universities for professors with expertise in your chosen topic. Of course, your local Chamber of Commerce and the Yellow Pages in your local phone book are great sources! We prefer that all interviews be conducted in person because of the educational and personal growth that emerges in preparing for and conducting a face-to-face interview. If this is not feasible, you can conduct an interview by phone or via email. These must be documented as well.
18)  Q I do not have a computer at home. How can I type my research paper?
A
You can use computers in your school’s computer lab and media center before school, during the remediation period, after school, and on teacher work days. Davidson County Community College and our local public libraries have computers for your use. You also can make arrangements to use your Academic Advisor’s computer as well.
19)  Q I do not have a flash drive to store my information. What can I do?
A
Ask your Graduation Project Coordinators and Media Coordinators if you can borrow a school flash drive. Some schools sell them at a minimal cost.
20)  Q Why is the Graduation Project in English IV?
A
The English IV curriculum is the culmination of English Language Arts learning and therefore, contains standards which align with the Graduation Project. For more information on which standards are addressed by the Graduation Project, see the document manager for useful downloads.