Despite pandemic, Brevard students earned twice as many advanced diplomas last spring

Florida Today | by Eric Rogers | September 29, 2020

Despite school closures and other challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Brevard County high school students graduating last spring with Cambridge and International Baccalaureate diplomas more than doubled from the year before, according to initial data from Brevard Public Schools.

There were more than twice the number of Cambridge AICE diploma graduates this past spring, with 125 students against just 51 in 2019, the numbers showed. International Baccalaureate diplomas increased to 92, up from 45 last school year.

Both programs put additional emphasis on scholastic achievement which often result in college credits and are more rigorous than the typical high school curriculum.

Other distinctions were up as well, including a 35% jump in “scholar diplomas,” which require additional advanced coursework over the standard 24-credit diploma requirements, the data showed.

“Merit diplomas” that confer industry and technical certifications also saw a slight jump over the year before, as well as the number of students awarded the “gold seal of biliteracy.” The latter is granted to students that attain a “high level of competency” in a second language, according to Florida statute.

“Despite the many challenges that the Class of 2020 faced, they demonstrated a firm commitment to their education and their post-secondary aspirations,” said Stephanie Soliven, the school district’s assistant superintendent of secondary leading and learning, in a statement.

“We are so proud of their accomplishment and look forward to following their success in their future endeavors.”

The school district is awaiting word from the state on final graduation rates, BPS spokesman Russell Bruhn wrote in a news release.

Schools across the state shut down and students transitioned to emergency virtual learning in March due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended state examinations and other end-of-year requirements and delayed graduation ceremonies until July.

School campuses reopened in August following an order from Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.

Photo: Florida Today

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