By Graham Deshazer | Staff Writer
On Jan. 31, the Texas State Board of Education gave full approval to the new high school graduation program. This new program allows students more flexibility in which high school courses they decide to take.
House Bill 5 established one graduation plan, the Foundation High School Program, for all students, which requires 22 credits for graduation. In addition, the Richardson ISD encourages all students to build on the FHSP and complete one or more endorsements and the Distinguished Level of Achievement.
Students can also gain Performance Acknowledgments based on state requirements. The new requirements will impact all students who will be freshmen during the 2014-2015 school year and later.
Counselors at Pearce believe this will be good for incoming students.
“I am excited about the changes because I think it will give students more flexibility in choosing the courses they want to take to fulfill their graduation requirements,” Pearce counselor Debbie Knox said.
Along with the Foundation High School Program, students may earn an Endorsement. An Endorsement is earned by taking a coherent sequence of courses from one of five areas: Arts and Humanities, Multidisciplinary, Public Services, Business and Industry, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM.
Finally, a student may earn a Distinguished Level of Achievement by successfully completing the Foundation High School Program and each of the following: four credits in math, which must include Algebra II, four credits in science, and the curriculum requirements for at least one endorsement.
One specific element is that students will no longer be required to take Communications Applications (speech) but will be required to take one semester of technology.
“Requiring a new technology course is a good move for RISD,” sophomore Emily Halligan said. “Jobs in the U.S. are becoming increasingly technology-based, and this will help students later on in their careers.”
Under the new program, Algebra II will no longer be required to graduate. Instead of Algebra II, many different math options will be provided, including two new courses called Algebraic Reasoning and Statistics.
“Not having to take Algebra II would have really helped me this year,” sophomore Sebastian Elverskog said. “I really struggled in that class, and the new options seem intriguing.”