Putting Education Reform To The Test

How Florida Lawmakers Would Change High School Graduation Requirements

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Two bills could give Florida students more flexibility in earning their high school diploma.

After years of adding requirements to earn a high school diploma, Florida lawmakers have proposed bills which would allow students more flexibility in how they earn a diploma.

A House proposal (HB 7091) would create three diploma tracks: College and career; industry and scholar. All three diplomas require four years of English language arts.

Students seeking an industry diploma would have to take four math courses, but the only required course is Algebra I and its end-of-course exam. College and career track students must add Geometry. And instead of requiring students pass the Geometry end-of-course exam, the bill would make the test 30 percent of the final grade.

The scholar track adds a requirement for Algebra II and Statistics, or an equally rigorous course.

In science, students would still have to take three courses including Biology and another course with a laboratory component. But students in the college and career and industry tracks would no longer have to pass the Biology end-of-course exam. Instead, the test would count for 30 percent of the final grade.

Students seeking a scholar diploma add a requirement for Chemistry and Physics or an equally rigorous course.

The other big change is in electives, where students on the industry track would take eight career education credits in a filed identified by state or local need. That could include earning industry certifications. The State Board of Education would adopt a list of acceptable certifications each year.

Students in the college and career track could also take courses to earn industry certification.

Scholar-track students would have six elective credits focused on liberal arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or career education — one of which must be an accelerated course such as Advanced Placement or a dual enrollment course through a local college.

The bill was opposed by the Foundation for Florida’s Future, the influential non-profit group founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush. Director Patricia Levesque told House lawmakers the foundation opposed lifting the Geometry requirement.

Levesque said they favor a bill in the Senate with similar goals.

That bill, SB 1076, would let the State Board of Education approve industry training programs which could be substituted for graduation requirements.

For instance, a student could earn an aerospace certification instead of taking Algebra II, Chemistry or Physics. Certifications could also replace English language arts courses.

Students could also take multiple Algebra I credits to satisfy their math requirements, but must still pass the end-of-course exam.

Read the staff analysis of the House bill here.

Read the staff analysis of the Senate bill here.

Both bills are below.


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