Monday, August 19, 2013

Legislation significantly changes graduation requirements

New legislation will significantly change the state’s graduation requirements, beginning with freshmen who enter high school in the 2014-15 school year.

HB 5, passed during the 2013 regular legislative session, moves from the state’s “4x4” graduation plan to a 22-credit Foundation High School Plan that allows students to receive endorsements in specific areas.

The total number of credits required for a student to earn an endorsement is 26, which is the number of credits currently required under the Recommended High School Program and the Distinguished Achievement Program.

The new graduation program allows students to earn performance acknowledgments for outstanding performance in areas such as bilingualism and biliteracy or on tests such as the SAT or ACT.

They can also earn a distinguished level of achievement by completing a total of four math credits, including Algebra II, a total of four science credits, and earning at least one endorsement.

“This bill calls for something of a culture change,” House Public Education Chair Jimmie Don Aycock told the State Board of Education. He said the bill calls for a less prescriptive graduation plan that allows local communities to craft courses or requirements that fit their needs. A side-by-side comparison of the current three plans and the new Foundation program is pages 11 and 12 of this newsletter.

“In the new world, we’re going to have a single diploma with add-ons,” said Monica Martinez, director of the Texas Education Agency’s curriculum division, referring to the endorsements and performance acknowledgments. Aycock said the legislature intentionally left many of the decisions that must be made about graduation plans to the State Board of Education.

These decisions include defining which courses constitute an “advanced” English, mathematics or science course, creating new courses for the endorsements and adjusting the academic achievement record. The board will work to update the graduation plans throughout the fall semester.

As already defined by the new law, the Foundation High School Program will consist of:

 Beginning with those who are freshman during the 2014-2015 school year, a student will be placed on the Foundation Graduation Program and the law requires the student to select an endorsement.

At the end of the 10th grade year, a student with his parents’ permission can opt to follow the 22-credit Foundation plan without an endorsement. A student will earn an endorsement by successfully completing four credits of math, four credits of science, two additional elective credits and the curriculum requirements for the endorsement.

The SBOE will determine those curriculum requirements. The endorsement areas are: science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); business and industry; public services; arts and humanities; and multidisciplinary studies. “An endorsement should be viewed as areas of interest. We need to give students enough latitude to find areas of interest,” Aycock said. Each school district or charter must offer the courses necessary for students to complete at least one endorsement.

A school district or charter that offers only one endorsement must offer the multidisciplinary studies endorsement. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a member of the Senate Education Committee, told the board in July that legislators want to provide students with flexibility in selecting courses and specifically do not want rigid course sequencing requirements to be enacted, except where absolutely necessary.

While the new graduation program won’t be implemented until the fall of 2014, students in the Classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017 will be given the option of continuing on one of the current graduation programs or switching to the new program.

For updates, or additional information on how HB5 will impact graduation planning, visit the SBISD website.


Post a Comment

Do you have feedback? Tell us.