The State of Texas passed House Bill 5 legislation that changes graduation requirements beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. The graduation plan will add a variety of new tracks designed to help students choose a career path. No longer will there be minimum, recommended, and distinguished graduation plans, but instead, a foundation plan combined with endorsement coursework for different educational disciplines.
The foundation program consists of 22 credits. Students will not be required to take four years of math, science, or social studies to complete the foundation program. Instead, they’ll need to receive three credits for each of these subjects and will be able to choose some of the core coursework they take. Students are still required to take four years of English.
For math, students still need to take Algebra I and Geometry, but can choose their third credit. For science, students will be required to take Biology, but can choose their next two credits. For social studies, students will take U.S. History, a half credit of economics, a half credit of government, and will then be able to choose between world history, world geography, or a new combination for their third credit. For English, students will take English I, II, III and then choose their fourth credit.
The state will also require two foreign language credits. Computer programming may be substituted. In all, the foundation program is made up of four English credits, three math credits, three science credits, three social studies credits, two foreign language credits, one fine arts credit, one PE credit, and five elective credits.
There will be a lot of flexibility for students to make choices in their course selections. This will allow individual strengths and interest to impact their career path that leads to graduation.
Aside from the foundation plan, students must initially add endorsement courses to their graduation plan. The five endorsements plans currently available are:
In order to achieve an endorsement, students will need to take an additional math, an additional science, and two additional elective credits within an endorsement area, bringing a student’s total required credits to 26.
Students can opt out of an endorsement only after they and their parent have been advised by a counselor on the benefits of an endorsement. Parents must provide written permission to opt out. However, students will be able to switch between endorsements, providing that it doesn’t prolong a students’ high school career past four years.
The multidisciplinary endorsement has the most flexibility. This endorsement would allow students to take coursework from several different plans.
In addition, students already enrolled in high school that are in danger of graduating late or dropping out may have access to the foundation program. This measure would only be taken to ensure that the student graduate on time.
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