Superintendent's column: Victoria ISD embraces the graduation requirements changes
During this past Legislative session, House Bill 5 was passed into law. This bill embodies significant changes to high school graduation requirements, the state assessment system and the state accountability system.
In regard to graduation requirements, HB5 creates a single foundation diploma and eliminates the minimum, recommended and distinguished graduation plans that are currently in place. It allows students to earn endorsements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); business and industry; public services; arts and humanities; and multidisciplinary studies. HB5 creates a distinguished achievement level above the foundation diploma that can be attained in any of the above mentioned endorsement programs by completing an additional science and math credit. The State Board of Education is currently working to finalize its rules on the new high school graduation requirements.
In Victoria ISD, we are embracing the changes to the new graduation requirements that were brought forward by HB5. As we embark upon our responsibility to inform students, parents and the community of these changes, we are committed to making this information readily available and accessible to all. Our VISD counselors have done an amazing job of developing information strategies for our eighth- through 12th-grade students and will provide this information in a comprehensive and uniform way throughout our school district.
VISD parents with students in grades eight to 12 will be able to attend a special parent night with specific information for their child's grade level. These meetings will provide consistent, purposeful communication of the many graduation options available to our students. We will also be increasing the time frame for our students' course selection and graduation plan selection process to ensure each student will receive the individualized guidance they so richly deserve. Counselors will meet with students to present information on graduation plans, course offerings, GPA, class rank, Advanced Placement potential, graduation plan endorsements and to review their transcripts. Following the individual grade level parent nights, counselors will spend the next two weeks meeting individually with students to provide additional guidance on course selection, credits and future goals.
VISD also considered the needs of our students and community when determining course offerings and endorsement opportunities for the 2014-15 school year. Dual-credit courses in process technology, instrumentation and electronics and firefighting have been added to the curriculum to provide students with additional opportunities as they begin their career pathways. These courses benefit our community in many ways. They allow our graduating students to have a head start at preparing to enter the workforce, and they provide our local business partners with highly qualified potential employees.
These courses were also promoted through the Dream Big STEM Expo and Operation Pay Day. The Dream Big STEM Expo brought industry representatives to Victoria College to educate all VISD eighth-graders of the career opportunities available throughout our school and community. Operation Pay Day was offered to East and West High School sophomores and juniors and, with presentations by Alcoa, Dow, Invista and Victoria College, allowed our students to experience another option in reaching their future education and employment goals.
Tuli Kupferberg once stated: "When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." In regard to today's educational opportunities for our students, this is definitely the case. In the VISD, we will embrace the changes brought forth in HB5 and are extremely excited about the possibility of providing our students and community with these new and innovative career path choices. We also believe that what you receive by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire VISD, thank you for choosing to believe in our students and supporting our mission of every child, every classroom, every day.
Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.