VISD trustees discuss draft changes to graduation

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Oct. 17, 2013 at 5:17 a.m.

Draft requirements for high school graduates left Victoria school district board members with questions Thursday night.

VISD administrators Susanne Carroll, Lauri Voss and Kimberly Motley gave trustees a detailed report on what high school and middle school parents could expect their students to be taking this upcoming school year.

Part of the drafted requirements includes the offering of college preparatory courses in advanced math and English.

"We've been working with Victoria College the last couple of weeks to develop courses to prepare students," said Carroll, VISD executive director of curriculum, instruction and accountability.

The draft also requires districts to develop career and technology education courses developed through local partnerships.

"This will be a great opportunity for our businesses to become a bigger part of our schools," said VISD Superintendent Robert Jaklich.

Through the partnerships, VISD will propose four new, innovative courses to the State Board of Education.

The proposed courses include: Introduction to Process Technology; Safety, Health and Environment; Digital Fundamentals and DC Circuits.

"We want to be the front-runner in these courses," said Voss, VISD career and technical education coordinator. "The goal is also to have these courses count as dual credit."

During the presentation, trustee Ross Mansker asked whether students would be ready to work at a manufacturing or production plant after graduation.

"That'll be up to the individual student," Voss said. "But we can give them a head start."

School Board President Tami Keeling applauded the administrators for the work and proposed innovative classes.

"This is exceptional work," Keeling said. "We may be one of the first districts to offer these types of courses in innovative technology."

Carroll followed Voss' presentation with a comprehensive explanation of the house bill's new graduation requirements.

Under the new drafted requirements, in order for a student to graduate in the top 10 percent of his or her class, he or she would need to take Algebra II before graduation, Carroll said.

"Wow," said Bernard Klimist, vice president of the board. "This will ensure that the kids who are going on to college will be ready to be there."

After earning 22 core subject credits, students would be required to choose one of five endorsement tracks: science, technology, engineering and math; business and industry; public services; arts and humanities or multidisciplinary studies.

From there, students would take advanced, specialized courses to better prepare themselves for either college or the workforce, Carroll said.

The draft requirements released Thursday by the Texas Education Agency will undergo its first reading by the State Board of Education in November.

"The hope is that the SBOE will make a final decision by January," Keeling said. "We'll need to start talking to our eighth-graders about what courses they'll want to be taking next year."

Motley, VISD counselor coordinator, said the district will scheduled several information meetings for parents and students once the requirements are final.

"This is a road map to success," said trustee Michael DiSanto. "Two weeks ago, if my friends had asked what our plan is to improve education in our community, I wouldn't have had one - now, I can show them."



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