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Church Announces New Seminary Graduation Requirements for LDS Youth

August 18, 2014
source: LDS Church News

Photo from LDS Church News, courtesy of IRI

MR says: Some exciting and interesting adjustments to the seminary program. We can't wait to see the youth "step up to the challenge," as Sister Oscarson says in the article.

New requirements for seminary graduation are meant to “elevate learning” and better prepare students for lives of service and discipleship. The changes are being implemented throughout the world beginning this school year with this year’s course of study — Doctrine and Covenants and Church History.

“It fits in line with Preach My Gospel, and it fits in line with the Come Follow Me curriculum,” said Wayne Davis, manager of communications for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. “We are asking the youth to be more self-sufficient in their testimonies and their knowledge and in their ability to share that knowledge.”

Read the rest of this story at ldschurchnews.com

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Comments 42 comments

hutchbunch said...

07:50 AM
on Aug 19, 2014

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This is a very unfortunate development in my opinion. This simply goes from using a program designed to help "supplement" the teaching in the home. This announcement, specifically having a passing score on an exam, is as if the church it trying to make this a parochial school. With CES, especially outside of Utah/Idaho, you have many "teachers" that are NOT qualified to teach except that they received a "calling". With all of the end of year exams being given by the public schools, to add this on top is overkill. The amount of stress these kids are under is overwhelming, and I can easily see this as the last straw. I have no problem with the reading component, because that has always been an expectations, but a semester and final exam is ridiculous. My family has had experience with one seminary teacher (I use the term loosely because there is NO certification or credentials required to teach seminary) who made her own tests, and attempted to give "academic" grades, and another that embodied the aspect of teaching with love and making the students feel important. Unfortunately this announcement has now changed everything toward the academic environment. Seminary should be a place where students can "ESCAPE" the concerns of their regular hectic day. With this announcement, it now becomes "just another class I have to attend". I personally will have a hard time encouraging my children to stress themselves over seminary in general, but specifically the exams. Now, things would be different if students attended a private, church run school (like BYU) where it is part of the academic programs. Seminary, however, is completely voluntary and (as I have said before) should be a relief from the daily concerns of life. I fully expect any CES leadership and many other members to ignore these comments, but I wanted to make them know.

kirtland said...

09:22 AM
on Aug 19, 2014

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Hi Hutchbunch, I just found this link, and decided to read the comment below. As a seminary teacher, I am excited to follow this direction. I think students should expect to come to an atmosphere of love and respect, ready to leave the world behind, and I have seen that they are ready for the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ right away. The elevated expectations are, like you said, not too new. The reading is not new, and the doctrine assessment will be given and re-given until the student passes (very low-stress quiz - not a one-time only deal). Most teachers give some kind of scripture mastery quiz, and this will not be different, especially if they listen, and ask for help. Just like the past, those who wish to graduate will do so, if they put forth the effort. Now there is just a little more encouragement (in addition to the home and church) to know and understand the doctrine before entering the MTC, and while they are answering questions that they might have, their friends, family, or others on social media. I would never ignore comments like your comments, because I think it is important to address. While I don't think this will be reversed, I do think that students will rise to the expectations if we show them how valuable it is to gain spiritual and doctrinal understanding. I plan to have a great time in my classroom, and we have been busy this summer getting prepared for this coming school year.

kan said...

11:55 AM
on Aug 19, 2014

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hutchbunch and Kirtland - I see both points but tend to agree that this not needed and will tend to push some students away from seminary. Many of these students already have a full plate, with sports and other activities they are involved in. You say it is a low stress test and the students will get to retake it until they pass. If that is the case then why test at all. Just because you can pass test doesn't mean you are prepared for what lies ahead in life and in the church. Seminary should be used to supplement what is taught in the home not become the source. My kids go to seminary and enjoy it, but by now this will put a damper on what they will put into it. It will stress kids to do this and they don't need it.

puregolf72 said...

12:12 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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My only whiny comment is that the Seminary is located at all schools in Utah. In CA and all other States, Seminary starts before school, this is a Sacrifice for our kids. Your's walk across the street, ours get up before dawn, then attend a full school schedule. For the "rest of the world" outside Utah to be compared on level playing field is impossible.

bettyxstitch said...

12:16 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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I feel I am qualified to speak on this issue as I have served four years as an early morning seminary teacher, am a returned missionary, am a professional teacher, and am a mother of a learning disabled teenager. I am very disheartened by this announcement. My daughter, because of her disability, had to take her written driver's test multiple times despite reading and studying the book diligently. She could answer every question correctly verbally, but she cannot perform well on a multiple choice test despite her hard work. We have supported her to complete three years of Seminary despite some significant personal and medical issues our family has faced. Now she has come to her final year and this has been announced. Where we live, our Grade 12 end of the year exams count for a full 50% of her final school grade. So now we find that she will need to pass church assessments at the same time as the all-important diploma exams. She has no confidence that she will ever get 75% on a test, so now questions why she should even try. With her disability, she will have a great deal of difficulty completing the readings as well. This will take her significantly longer time than the average grade 12 student. I am one who sustains leaders, even if I don't always understand...but this one really, really hurts. I know it is not like crossing the plains and giving up all one possesses, but the mountain now placed before us in this final year is going to be an incredibly difficult one for our family.

sestraleonard said...

12:38 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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@bettyxstich: I would urge you to meet with your stake president and bishop. I know that on an individual level, they would be more than willing to make accommodations. As an educator in a regular classroom setting, we often have accommodations put into place for those that need it and I know in our local seminary program, there are those that will need accommodations as well. They will not say no, and I'm sure that any seminary teacher would be more than glad to sit down with you and address your concerns. Just because the program is written a certain way, doesn't mean that is the only way.

thanks-for-nothing-ces said...

12:42 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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As the parent of a strong LDS youth who struggles academically, I want to publicly thank CES for this short-sighted new policy! And the last minute announcement before the school year starts, after all these students have set their regular school schedules with an eye towards not taking on more than they can handle, is really unfair -- to throw on these already stressed kids the extra stress of passing exams to graduate from seminary too?! Seriously?! (and don't think for a second that it isn't a big deal...this just landed like an atom bomb in the world of any kid even thinking about going to BYU...these seminary exams just became more important than any other exam they take....no seminary graduation = no chance at BYU!) By the way, my youth just read this article and broke down in tears -- "Mom, it takes all I have to keep up at school! I love seminary because I can feel the spirit without worrying about being judged...and now I have to pass tests to graduate from Seminary?! I just can't take any more test stress! I have to focus on my school exams so I can graduate from high school, I am not going to seminary this year, sorry, I know that means no BYU ever, but if I don't pass my school classes I won't graduate at all, and I can't handle the stress of another final exam...and I can't take the embarrassment of going to seminary and not taking or not passing the tests." Thanks CES for crushing the spirit of my youth and taking away their "refuge from the world"! I guess all the talks in General Conference and articles in the Church News, Ensign, and New Era in recent months/years about not over-programming out children's lives and reducing pressure and stress on them is just so much lip-service...but then again, I guess its no big deal for those making the policies as their kids have "release time" during school instead of adding an extra class to their day that starts with early-morning seminary...(and please refrain comments about "it adds a class for release-time kids too" unless you or your kids actually graduated from early-morning seminary...there is a BIG difference...)

kirtland said...

12:45 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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While I don't represent the Church, I can speak for what I have learned about the topic, and how I will go about this soon. This assessment (as they call it) will elevate accountablility, knowledge, and understanding. I have seen that when students are given a quiz on scripture mastery, they have something to study for. Without any form of assessment, or graduation criteria, there will be little or no impetus to pay the price for knowledge. Having said that, seminary classrooms will continue to help, support, and encourage students. I think these assessments will overall give students more confidence as they try to verbalize the doctrines of the gospel to others. As for students in the situation of bettyxstitch, the teachers will continue to work with students on an individual basis, and will certainly not deny graduation for someone who has tried their best. When the bar is raised, it is never easy, but certainly helps us face the challenges of our day. A good attitude, and confidence in the student will help them realize that this is not only do-able, but very rewarding. Seminary will continue to be a place of love, respect, refuge from the storm, and excitement, but will now have an added element of accountability. I continue to feel that the criteria and work load will be no different for students who come to class, listen, and have an open heart.

wsw said...

01:07 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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As a grandmother... all I can say is...Priorities. Which one of these activities can take your child into Eternal life if they are not stretched to gain their own testimony of Jesus Christ? Football, Drill Team, Band, Dance...etc or Seminary? No child can hold onto the coat tails of their parent's testimony and be ready to serve a mission (if they so wish)at 18 or 19. We have been encouraged for decades to Lengthen our Stride. I have never seen a child not reach for the expectations if encouraged in the right way with love, understanding and where needed exceptions. Don't give a child a crutch to fail by your negativity. Help them to grow...all our youth no matter what direction they go need to establish and strengthen their own testimonies. Don't hold them back.

pamdeland said...

01:28 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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My feelings exacty Kirtland... very well said. If attend seminary and want to exclaim to all the world and BYU that you graduated from Seminary, you should be accountable to have learned something while filling a seat. I drove for early morning seminary for 5 years for a student in our ward and my own daughter. I wish my daughter had been accountable for learning in the class. Yes it would have meant more study time, but she would have had a greater understanding and hopefully a love of the scriptures. In our day and age you cannot have a casual relationship with the gospel or the Savior. Times are changing and are youth need to be prepared more than ever.

thebomisthebomb said...

01:35 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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I planned to say I was in support of the new requirements but after reading some of these responses I am not so certain. I just pray that it doesn't cost us to lose one student.

thanks-for-nothing-ces said...

02:18 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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pamdeland -- so in 5 years(?!) of driving your daughter to/from seminary you didn't have discussions about what she was learning in Seminary that would hold her accountable for more than "filling a seat"? Pity...you missed a great opportunity with her...seems to me that in our day and age it is a bit hypocritical for a parent to delegate such accountability to others and then complain that the child does not have a sufficient understanding and love of the scriptures or relationship with the Gospel and the Savior....

utter.oblivion said...

02:33 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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I was a seminary teacher for several years. Loved teaching the youth of the church. Just a thought here...the whole seminary requirements do not get changed without the direction of our church leaders. Do we trust them? Who put our church presidency in place? The Lord did. Do we think that we know better than the Lord or can we trust Him to know what is best for us and our children? Faith is what is called for here. When we feel things are not in our "best interest" we must remember that the Lord sees the whole picture. He will not allow the church leaders to lead us astray.

iknowwhatimtalkingabout said...

02:34 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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This priority focuses on increasing understanding and conversion in the hearts and minds of seminary students. If a student can take and retake the assessment until they succeed, it is clearly an assessment for learning model. Assessment for learning is a common approach in teaching and learning so hats off to S&I for using this method.

thanks-for-nothing-ces said...

02:55 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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utter.oblivion -- why do I feel like I was just patted on the head and told "it will be alright" and that the stress and tears my child is going through right now over this will go away if we ignore it long enough? You taught seminary for several years...?...Never would have guessed!

veryseminary said...

03:45 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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I see that every area, every student is different. How blessed we are to have students that adapt to changes and at least TRY after the moans and groans are quieter. My wife teaches Seminary at 5am while I'm her Security. They leave for private schools by bus and had the last min. letter from school that buses will leave 15 min. earlier from country pickups. This affected many already-stressed situations, including Sem. time. But these students adapt, knowing school is foremost but do not miss or complain of Seminary because of it. True, they sometimes doze, they hope for a random breakfast after a lesson, but they are balanced knowing stress in their lives are too often and unfortunately peer-pressure driven. Know who you are and everything else should work out for the best. Best wishes in your adjustments and challenges.

mower said...

03:45 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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Looks like we're reverting back to "...teach me all that I must know..."

looktothelighthouse said...

03:49 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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Whose on the Lord's side? I can't believe all the negative comments to a change in the church seminary policy. Are you teaching your youth what it means to follow the prophet? Who do you think guides the important decisions for our youth of today. I went through early morning seminary and my boys 'graduated' from seminary in Idaho. I wish there would've been more emphasis on scripture study and accountability, instead of it being a time you could slide through. I know what a tough time it was for my sons finding time to take take seminary classes & still fit in required & elective courses for high school too. But it was important to them. It all depends on priorities. Whose side are you all on?

al2265 said...

04:19 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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Looktothelighthouse As a person with multiple disabilities your answer while in the Lords servsnts favor is without compassion towards those who struggle with life adding just one more difficulty.I for one struggle just to live from the moment I get up till I go to bed.I am sure the brethren will accomadate those who have worked hard to go to seminary with disabilities but let us not forget the Lord had compassion on us all as we should for each other and we all have a right to our opinion. I say that each and every student that goes to seminary deserves our respect and love and prayer that each does their best to learn.Also I want to thank all the seminary teachers for their service to our future generations of the church.

mothernut said...

04:43 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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As an early morning seminary teacher, I welcome the Elevate learning priority. This is not difficult. You go to class to learn, so now they want to know what your are learning, no big deal. The way I see it, if you go to class to learn, read your scriptures, participate you have nothing to complain about or STRESS about. Maybe some should be a little more positive about this experience and how it will help our youth build stronger foundations of the gospel, stand a little taller, have the knowledge to teach the gospel to their friends. Be armed with the armor of God. It's time to act now, and not deliver lip service. This is not tragic, and parents need to help by endorsing and not bad talking. Let's gather together and support this action. 75% is average. Our youth are not average. Thank you to Kirkland and WSW.

bettyxstitch said...

04:58 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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Thank you @sestraleonard for your very positive and helpful response. I will follow through with your advice. Perhaps there has been some allowances made for students with severe learning disabilities and this has not been included in the article, but is somewhere in some instructions to local leaders and seminary teachers. All I know is that my child is kind, a good missionary, a wonderful example of volunteerism, and a hard worker. She has never gotten over 75% on a summative assessment in her life. I have heard her say that she is bad at math, bad at reading, bad at writing, bad at test-taking. I don't want to hear this kind and compassionate daughter of God saying that she is "bad at Church". My intention is not to exhibit a lack of faith or bad mouth my leaders. My intention is to ensure that there is communication providing on customizing seminary programming for students with disabilities.

thanks-for-nothing-ces said...

05:51 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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Borrowing a line from wsw...."...all I can say is..." I am sure glad that mothernut is not my youth's teaching seminary teacher...and it sounds like hutchbunch may have encountered her along the way...such Christ-like compassion, impressive! Its "teachers" like this that worry parents of children who have academic struggles (whether disability related or not)...and unfortunately they never quite understand why they are the stumbling block to our kids...

__tim__ said...

05:55 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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This is excellent! So glad my kids will have extra incentive to dive into the scriptures and understand the doctrine. There is no greater learning during the teenage years than can be found in the scriptures. All parents should welcome this. If your child has special needs your seminary teacher and priesthood leaders will help and be accommodating. My hope is that we as parents don't project the wrong attitude to our kids. If they hear us stressing about it and whining about the changes what will their attitude likely be? On the other hand, if we exercise faith, be positive and see the good then our kids will take it in their stride and be positive too.

thanks-for-nothing-ces said...

06:00 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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Bettyxstitch -- Amen sister! my heart goes out to you...our waters are not as rough as yours, but we certainly empathize with you as we are in a similar boat...hang in there, we'll all get through this... :-)

richchipper said...

10:35 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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I think it's okay to express concerns. Sometimes things are not totally thought through or not explained well. Virtually every program in the church has been tweaked. Questioning the "how" doesn't mean we question the "why". I hope the church and members find ways to incorporate this change with other programs. For example, wouldn't it be great to use a sample test for an FHE or mutual night? Or potentially use seminary study for Personal Progress or Duty to God requirements. When we realize living the gospel isn't "extra" but can be (and must be) incorporated into all the aspects of our daily lives, I think we are all better blessed. In other words, kids shouldn't have to choose between drill team/sports or the gospel - they can do both.

jh5 said...

10:41 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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There is a lot of murmuring going on in this feed. I sustain my leaders and I trust that this new curriculum came straight from Heavenly Father. And I know that Heavenly Father wants what's best for my children and that is good enough for me. There is a choice to have a bad attitude and complain or a good attitude and help your kids get the most they can from seminary.

skooby said...

11:23 PM
on Aug 19, 2014

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From reading the press release it appears that there needs to be more effort made in downplaying the difficult areas of things. My kids are getting a bit tired of the Come Follow Me approach in Sunday School. Mainly because the teachers are not always prepared or able to keep kids attention. I know that Seminary Teachers are loving and caring and will help our children progress. Of anything this will be the most challenge for our seminary teachers. Anyway, I do trust the leaders. That they pray, love and understand things about our children.

negriupnorth said...

04:12 AM
on Aug 20, 2014

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After reading the entire story, I think that we need to be careful not to miss the reason for the changes. It is to create motivation for the youth to be knowledgeable of the doctrine of the gospel for themselves and to know how to teach it. Well, these designed assessments will give the youth a reason to actually study the doctrine. The external motivation is not the strongest kind, however, knowing how the Spirit works, of the youth who genuinely seek to learn more through their study will develop an intrinsic motivation because they will love what they are learning. That was my experience with seminary...a home-study student who met with a dedicated teacher on Saturdays. I had to turn in every single page of the student workbook in order to get credit because attendance was the measure for passing and I was too far away to attend. 3 out of 4 years was workbooks. I learned so much those years and experienced my personal conversion to the gospel because of that effort. I think we do a great disservice for our youth if we spearhead the complaining wagon; we rob them of the support they will need in learning something far more precious than chemistry or football. They will learn to be spiritually self reliant. We would be better off helping them find the confidence to succeed in this endeavor as we would with every worthwhile endeavor.

moroniman said...

11:15 AM
on Aug 20, 2014

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Wow. Some really condescending comments here. Calling out people who want to question and discuss a church POLICY decision as "murmuring" is pretty freaking ridiculous. No wonder the church gets labelled as a cult. And really... what exactly is the downside of this policy? Who cares if you don't "graduate" from seminary unless you're going to a church school? And if you ARE going to a church school, then you'd better be prepared for a LOT more of these exams on religious beliefs/materials, so these seminary tests are only the beginning.

thebomisthebomb said...

11:34 AM
on Aug 20, 2014

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@moroniman and others- yes, I agree that it is healthy to discuss these types of decisions. Especially in a forum such as the comments section. The line is blurred as far as not being obedient and expressing an opinion but it makes no sense that members must accept a new policy and not say anything or raise any concerns. Much depends on the manner and the arena where concerns are presented.

deborahtemple said...

11:52 AM
on Aug 20, 2014

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Here are some assessment questions I'd like to see on a seminary exam: 1. Where can one find the doctrine that says women can't have the priesthood? A. D&C 84 B: Helaman 10:6-7 C D&C 50 D There is no doctrine, this is policy only, and subject to change according to revelation. 2. What are the major differences between the first vision account in the Pearl of Great price and the one given by Joseph in his own hand in his journal in 1832. A: He saw only the Lord and no mention of other churches- diary account vs seeing god and Jesus - PoGP B: He was told there was no true church in PoGP version/ he was told his sins were forgiven and no mention of other churches- diary version. C: My parents told me there is no difference. D: I've never heard of Joseph's version being written in his own hand in his journal in 1832, when Joseph was 27.

h.f.g. said...

02:34 PM
on Aug 20, 2014

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If you want something to wine about then listen. I played football at Ricks College which was a defining time in my life and I have best friends to this day from my sports experience at Ricks. It was a bitter pill to swallow when sports was removed and hurt deeply but my testimony of the gospel is deeper than that. BYUI is a great institute. Seminary is a choice and not a requirement. I did not graduate from seminary and still served a mission and I am very active in the Church today. I have four chidren and three of them have graduated from seminary. The youngest is still in high school. One of the three is not active. Those of you who question this change will be a reflection on your children. I actually am excited about this new change because I want to take this opportunity to read the scriptures which will be the Doctrine & Covenants, with the one son still in high school this year. I fill that this will be a blessing and not a burden.

jh5 said...

05:36 PM
on Aug 20, 2014

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My comment wasn't made to be condescending. I think there is a fine line between having concerns/questions and murmuring that's all. You can voice your concerns in a respectful way, but when you do it in a manner that says the church is absolutely wrong in doing this (which some have come across sounding that way)I just think it makes them sound like they know better than the leaders of the church. Obviously things were prayed over and it was decided that this is what is best for our youth in this day in age. And I agree our children pick up on our attitudes so my feelings is that if we as parents have positive attitudes and support the kids with the change it won't be an issue.

sally123sally said...

06:57 PM
on Aug 20, 2014

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I'm disappointed by this announced change. As an early morning seminary grad who did not enjoy the program but attended out of a sense of duty, this adds insult to injury. I disagree with comments to the effect of, "who cares if you graduate." I didn't attend just for kicks. Twenty four years later, with my kids set to participate in early morning seminary in the next few years, I've been hoping for change to a more abbreviated schedule, etc., not to a more rigorous program. For those who attend during the school day these changes might be neat, but to me this points to the bubble thinking of the folks in Utah.

crunchem said...

09:19 PM
on Aug 20, 2014

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Please, people, read the whole article and calm down. I think the stress exhibited here from many of you is unnecessary. For kids having a tough time, in an unusual circumstance or with a disability, accommodations and help will be offered, as before. Whether your child has AP classes, extra classes, release time or early morning seminary; whatever, nothing here indicates such dire changes that require such dramatic comments. Put it this way. Last year, a seminary student could show up to class and put his head down, not participate, not study and not learn anything. Yet, because he was faithful in attending, he would still receive the certificate of recognition. This year, the same student can behave the same way and still receive the certificate of recognition. Above and beyond that, if they actually participate instead of sleep, study their scriptures instead of ignore them and actually TRY, they will receive a certificate of completion. This certificate actually means something. Last year, students could take tests and quizzes, but it didn't really mean much, did it? The students that slept fared just as well as the students that paid attention, since they would both receive a certificate of recognition. If your student can't pass a 50 question open book quiz on Gospel Doctrine, with only 75% correct required, with multiple retries, aimed at a high school level of experience and knowledge, are they really BYU material anyway? Really? I'm sorry if this comes across a little mean or whatever, I don't mean it to be. When I was in seminary, it was seventh hour (after a full day of classes, no release time). This was on top of sports, paper routes, etc. all four years of high school. I don't think the 'changes' represent anything more than someone realizing that too many kids were skating through the program and just not quite prepared enough for missions/life after H.S.

thanks-for-nothing-ces said...

12:42 PM
on Aug 21, 2014

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ok...in the last 24 hours I've personally spoken with 6 different seminary teachers to get their view, and these are all awesome people that I love and respect. They are ALL very concerned about the same thing -- all the stuff discussed in this comments section aside -- they are VERY concerned that seminary will change from an hour a day when they could present lessons to touch kids hearts and help them feel the Spirit, to making sure that they cover all the timely material that is going to be on the "assessments" ("we've been told to not call them tests") so that everyone passes as no Seminary Teacher wants to be the reason a kid gets rejected from BYU (and they all view this, at some level, as the latest pre-screening method for admission to BYU). Every single teacher told me that in the MANY years they have been teaching seminary (collectively this group has over 40 years in Seminary!) they cannot recall a time when they or the other teachers stayed "on schedule" because they tailored their lessons to fit what their class needed in order to feel the Spirit and get a deep understanding of Gospel doctrines, and openly admitted that there was lesson material they skipped in favor of giving their kids those other spiritual experiences and knowledge -- but now they will be forced to "cram in the entire syllabus because it is on the two assessments." They view this as a "check" to grade the teachers as much as on the students...a few compared it to the standardized testing done in schools (its a nice benchmark for students, but teachers are evaluated based on how their students do on the tests...so those teachers now teach to get their students to perform well on those tests and ignore all else)... Interesting perspective on the whole thing...

blesstheirhearts said...

08:31 PM
on Aug 21, 2014

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I am really struggling with this. I have a 9th grader that is bipolar and has learning disabilities. His mental illness makes it difficult to fit in socially, and his learning disabilities make is difficult to be successful academically. Because of the special education classes he is required to take, he can't take any elective classes like his peers. Seminary is the ONLY class he gets to take where he can get away from the expectations and pressures of school. Since this is his first year of seminary, he isn't going to know that it's different from past years. I will encourage him and do what I can to help him, but anyone with a 15 year old knows that I can't MAKE him read the entire D&C and study to pass assessments. I wanted seminary to be a place he could go and feel the spirit because he hears things his teacher is inspired to share with her students because she knows them as individuals. If it’s just another place he will fail academically, what is the point of completing four years of seminary? He can sleep in (he’s in early morning seminary, the only time that it’s offered at his charter school in Utah) and have less pressure and stress about having one more thing to measure up in. I sincerely want him to experience seminary, strengthen his testimony, and create memories that he will never forget. I’m afraid that if it feels like another place where he can’t meet expectations, he’ll give up and won’t get to experience any of the awesome experiences like I had in seminary. If this new policy drives teenagers AWAY from seminary, who is that going to benefit? I would much rather have my child want to attend seminary because he feels good when he’s there, than walk away because of the added pressure this is going to put on him.

vgreer said...

10:47 PM
on Aug 21, 2014

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As a professional CES administrator, I have read the comments with interest. First off, some changes in Seminary and Institute come from S&I administrators, some come from the Brethren. This one comes from the 1st Presidency and Quorum of the 12. This will not be much of a change for the most part for a vast majority of students. Most are reading every day, and they have already been taking similar tests in Seminary. With the change is the instruction that the test will be modified for the students who struggle for one reason or another with tests. (I can't imagine any student who tries, will fail the test). With the new mission age missionaries are leaving within weeks of seminary graduation. Don't we want them prepared? President Monson has expressed that he doesn't want to lose one student because of this change. I don't think he will, but we will have many more who have stretched a bit and are better prepared for a lifetime of service in the Kingdom.

thanks-for-nothing-ces said...

07:39 PM
on Aug 22, 2014

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And there we have it -- a professional CES administrator admitting it is a test, and inherently admitting that even if one student it is lost it will be OK because of the many more will have stretched and become better. I seriously doubt that is the way that Pres. Monson and the Brethren view the situation, but at least we know where the CES administration stands...and BTW, it is pretty clear from reading these comments that at least a few students are already being lost from seminary...sad...and according to the official announcement about the change in missionary age, going out at younger ages is an option for those who are prepared and ready at those younger ages, but the decision is up to the individual in consultation with their Priesthood leadership..."I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available. (Pres. Monson)" so why should this new seminary policy make a difference? Those who want to be prepared by 18/19 step up their game in seminary, and those who want to go when they are 19/21 continue to prepare through institute, etc. -- is CES now telling us that they don't think their institute courses are properly preparing those of standard missionary age?

loria said...

06:16 PM
on Aug 23, 2014

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From personal experience, I have discovered that the children of active families who later become less-active, often have parents that grumbled behind close doors about church leaders. So the real damage that might be done with this new testing policy has nothing to do with taking tests. It is seminary students watching how their parents, seminary teachers and local leaders react. Be positive and all will be fine.

pamdeland said...

05:16 PM
on Aug 25, 2014

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thanks-for-nothing-ces READ the Comment again!! I drove for 5 yes FIVE years, in the morning because I drove a young woman in our ward who would not have gone to seminary if she did not have a ride, and for my daughter who came after her. Also you assume my daughter learned nothing and we did not talk, shame you. The comment was accountability might have helped in making it more meaningful. In my OPINION, accountability will help, because the students will not be a casual observer, they will need to show an understanding of what they have learned.

sasha said...

03:43 PM
on Sep 11, 2014

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As a seminary student myself (15, turning 16) I find this change completely detrimental to the seminary program. I live in Japan and the workload for Japanese students is very different to that of American students. (I, myself, am online-schooled but I know this through the word of my friends.) On top of attending school, they have mandatory after school activities, and most students attend "juku-" which is pretty much school after school. With this, they don't get home until 11-12 at night, and then have to do their homework. It's already a struggle for them to do seminary in the first place especially as it is definitely not a class part of the school schedule, unlike in Utah or some other places in the States. The brothers say this should encourage youth to go to seminary and actively participate, but from a youth's perspective, this just adds on a whole lot of unnecessary stress. It was NICE to have an escape from seminary a couple of times a week, but now it just feels like I'm attending church every day. I have friends who never started seminary (and have their parents backing them up) as they found it too "mendokusai-" which is the Japanese word for "troublesome." This just further bolsters their arguments against seminary education and certainly continues to dissuade them from attending- and I can't help but understand their feelings. It is not because we are lazy and unfaithful and unwilling to learn. It is because we are also students, trying to juggle extracurricular activities, schoolwork, stress, and homework at the same time. The last thing we need is more added work on top of everything else. Almost all the youth I know are sleep deprived everyday. When I used to attend school, I would frequently fall asleep during classes- I was just one of the many that were far too exhausted and stressed out. I know that as adults you have a very different perception of what you think will work for the youth. Nevertheless, as a youth, I feel this is just the last straw for those of us whose parents are encouraging (forcing) us to go to seminary in the first place.
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