New state graduation requirements to bolster industrial workforce

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

April 9, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated April 9, 2014 at 11:10 p.m.

Under the state's new graduation requirements, students who do not pass their end-of-course exams in Algebra I, English I or English II will be required to take a college preparatory class.

Sherri Hathaway, Victoria school district associate director of secondary curriculum, instruction and accountability, said the newly required course will help make students college ready.

"Students who pass this course's final exam with a 75 or better will be deemed college ready," Hathaway said.

The district has worked with Victoria College since October on developing the preparatory college course and exam, Hathaway said.

"We led the charge of making that happen with them," Hathaway said. "So if other districts choose to partner with Victoria College, they can use the curriculum we've put together."

Hathaway spoke to 121 Victoria Chamber of Commerce members at the University of Houston-Victoria campus about the new requirements Wednesday afternoon.

Randy Vivian, Victoria Chamber of Commerce president, said the new requirements, which also require students to select one of five specialty tracks, will help produce the skilled labor force the Crossroads needs.

"I applaud VISD for stepping up to the plate and starting that pipeline to get the workers we need," Vivian said. "We need to begin looking at ways to train individuals who are underemployed."

Lauri Voss, VISD career and technical education coordinator, gave chamber members an update on the four industrial technology courses they developed last year with the help from industry giants Invista and Alcoa as well as Victoria College.

Voss said while neither of the courses has received approval from the State Board of Education for statewide use, the four courses - Introduction to Process Technology, Safety, Health and Environment, DC Circuits and Digital Fundamentals - will be ready for VISD students in the fall.

The state requested that VISD collaborate with Gregory-Portland ISD to make the Introduction to Process Technology class more compatible with industries across the state, Voss said.

Previously, the curriculum for the Introduction to Process Technology class focused heavily on petrochemical industries.

"We are still going to focus our course on the petrochemical industry because that's what our industry wants us to do," Voss said. "We're waiting to hear back from TEA."

Students already have begun to enroll in the other industry technology courses, Voss said.

"If the classes are approved by the State Board of Education, then districts across the state will be able to use them," Voss said. "These are going to be a huge benefit to our local workforce."

Rick Villa, Communities in Schools of the Golden Crescent program lead, works with area school districts on dropout prevention.

"They did an excellent job simplifying and highlighting the benefits of the new graduation requirements," Villa said. "I'm glad to see they're going to be offering more college credit courses to prepare students for the workforce."



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