The State Board of Education gave final approval today to the state’s new high
school graduation program, which gives students added flexibility to follow
their academic interests.
Texas Legislature last year created the new 22-credit Foundation High School
Program, which allows students to earn performance acknowledgments and
four-credit endorsements in specific subjects but left decisions about many
details of the plan to the State Board.
course of this week, the board considered 34amendments to the graduation plan and approved most.
debates captured much of the attention
the state law, students following the Foundation High School Program must earn
three credits of math that include Algebra I and Geometry as well as a third
course. Students may select the third
course from a long list of mathematics courses. The board expanded the options
further by directing the development of two new courses called Algebraic
Reasoning and Statistics.
The two new courses are expected to be available for districts to offer
beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.
who want to earn the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
endorsement must take Algebra II, chemistry and physics as well as four
additional courses in the STEM area.
who hope to gain automatic admission to the state’s public universities under
the top 10 percent rule also must meet requirements that include earning credit
for Algebra II or meeting performance requirements on a college readiness
the new graduation plan, speech satisfied by a Communications Applications
class will no longer be a required credit for all students. However, districts
will be required to ensure that students learn key communications skills such
as delivering clear verbal messages and choosing effective nonverbal
behaviors. Districts may incorporate
these skills into an existing class, such as English, or continue to require a
separate communications class.
Communications Applications class had been a Texas graduation requirement since
changes approved this week clarified the courses students must take to earn an
endorsement in STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and
Humanities or Multidisciplinary Studies. Numerous course combinations can be
used to earn these endorsements.
- Clarified that students must take a coherent sequence of four credits from one or two disciplines (art, music, theater or dance) to earn an Arts and Humanities endorsement and may not earn the endorsement simply by taking introductory courses.
- Agreed that students would earn a Public Services endorsement, rather than a STEM endorsement, if they complete a coherent sequence of courses in health sciences.
- Added computer science courses as a route to obtain a STEM endorsement, while other technology applications courses, such as web communications, 3-D Modeling and Animation and Digital Video and Audio and Design, would apply to a Business and Industry endorsement.
- Added advanced journalism courses in newspaper and yearbook as options for earning a Business and Industry endorsement. Additionally, students wishing to take classes such as Communications Applications, creative writing or literary genre can earn an Arts and Humanities endorsement.
new graduation program, students may earn performance acknowledgments by
demonstrating outstanding performance. One way to earn an acknowledgment is by
earning a score of 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement test or a score of 4 or
higher on an International Baccalaureate examination. Originally, the board set
the higher score requirements but adjusted those standards after listening to
currently in the 8th grade – the class of 2018- will be the first
group required to graduate under the Foundation High School Program.
high school students remain under the previous three graduation plans – the
Minimum High School Program, the Recommended High School Program and the
Distinguished Achievement Program. However, these students may opt to move to
the Foundation Program.
amendments approved by the board this week will be incorporated and the final
program, as approved by the board, will be posted on the Texas Education
Agency’s website in approximately two weeks.