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Queens Chronicle

BACK TO SCHOOL PSAL set to tighten academic standards

Interscholastic athletes must keep on track to graduate in four years

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 4:57 pm, Thu Aug 29, 2013.

The Public School Athletic League in September will considerably strengthen academic and attendance eligibility requirements this September for students seeking to play on interscholastic sports teams.

“The goal of these new requirements is to increase graduation rates and academic performance of students participating in PSAL,” Eric Goldstein, chief executive of school support services at the PSAL, said in a memo to principals last February.

Under the new regulations, students must keep on a track to obtain 44 high school credits and graduate.

The old standards required a minimum of 36 credits, and did not require that students be on a track to graduate in four years with their class.

In a statement obtained from the city’s Department of Education, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the new standards are just part of an ongoing — and necessary — effort to increase high school graduation rates citywide.

“Under our reform efforts, we have been raising academic standards and our students have been meeting the challenge, as indicated by a graduate rate of 65.5 percent in 2011 compared with 52.8 percent in 2007,” Walcott said.

“We want to continue our progress and are making changes to the requirements for PSAL to reflect the higher standards so that all our students are college- and career-ready when they graduate from high school,” he added.

The regulations include a new “5 + 1” rule, which requires athletes to pass five credit-carrying courses, plus physical education in the most recent marking period.

Three of the five must be in major subject areas. Career and technical education, or CTE, classes cannot count toward the major class requirement.

A senior who is scheduled for four or five classes and fails one can participate in PSAL as long as the failed class is not one required for graduation.

Until this year the requirement was the “4 + 1” rule.

Another new requirement is that student-athletes have a passing grade point average when they are being examined for eligibility.

In the event a student is ruled ineligible, his or her school’s athletic director may under extenuating circumstances submit a formal request for review, an appeal that must be approved by the school’s principal.

Effective Feb. 1, 2014, an athlete must accumulate 10 credits for the two semesters prior to suiting up. Physical education does not count toward that total.

As for attendance, students now will be required to have a minimum attendance rate of 90 percent at the end of each marking period. The previous rate was 80 percent.

The change will actually ease restrictions on ninth grade students who transfer to a new school.

Under existing standards, ninth-graders who transfer are not automatically eligible to participate for one year. Regulations kicking in in September will deem all ninth-graders eligible if they are granted a transfer.

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