Aug. 13, 2013

SBOE seeks input on new graduation plans 

AUSTIN - The State Board of Education is seeking input from educators and community members as it begins to restructure graduation requirements to address recent changes in state law.

House Bill 5 (HB5), passed by the Texas Legislature this spring, made substantial changes to the state's graduation requirements, moving from the current "4x4" graduation plans to a 22-credit Foundation High School Program that allows students to earn endorsements in specific areas of study by completing four additional credits.

The new plan requires the state board to make a number of policy decisions, such as deciding which courses will count as advanced mathematics, English and science courses and determining the requirements for each endorsement area. The endorsement areas are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); business and industry; public services; arts and humanities; and multidisciplinary studies.

The board will hold a public hearing Sept. 17 in room 1-104 of the Travis State Office Building in Austin to receive input from educators and others about the changing graduation requirements.

"We encourage you to submit specific suggestions as to the course offerings that will give school districts the flexibility mandated in HB5 that is intended to meet all students' postsecondary goals," said Barbara Cargill, chair of the State Board of Education.

After the public hearing, Texas Education Agency staff will craft a proposed rule dealing with graduation requirements.

The board will consider this draft rule at its Nov. 20-22 meeting in Austin. If the rule receives preliminary approval, it will be posted in the Texas Register and there will be a 30-day public comment period. Comments during this time may be submitted to rules@tea.texas.gov.

A final vote on the changes is expected during the board's Jan. 29-31 meeting. All board meetings will occur at the Travis State Office Building at 1701 N. Congress Ave. in Austin.

Those who wish to submit comments about the graduation changes prior to the beginning of the official rulemaking process may send their comments to sboesupport@tea.texas.gov through Sept. 10.

Because many details about the Foundation High School Program and the endorsements must still be worked out, the new graduation plan will not be in effect for the 2013-2014 school year.

School districts must continue to offer the three existing graduation programs - the Distinguished Achievement Program, the Recommended High School Program and the Minimum High School Program - through at least the 2016-2017 school year when those students who enter high school later this month graduate.

However, students who will be sophomores, juniors or seniors during the 2014-2015 school year and are currently following one of the three existing programs will have the option of switching to the Foundation program when it becomes available in the 2014-2015 school year.

As updates become available about the graduation programs, they will be posted on the Texas Education Agency's website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/graduation.aspx.