The State Board of Education officially adopted new state high school graduation requirements this morning. The vote was 14 to one in support of the changes. El Paso Democrat Martha Dominguez voted against it.
Last year, lawmakers got rid of the previous graduation plan which required students to take four math, science, English and social studies courses.
Under the new plan, all students are required to take four years of English and at least three years of math, science and social studies. Students will then have to choose one of five paths to graduation, known as endorsements.
The five endorsements are:
- Arts and Humanities
- Business and Industry
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
- Public Service
- A multidisciplinary path
Throughout the last six months, State Board of Education members have discussed which courses should be required for each endorsement.
The most contentious issue was whether or not all students should be required to take Algebra II. In the end, only students who choose the STEM endorsement are required to take the course, and the board approved two courses other students can take instead of Algebra II to fulfill the advanced math requirement.
State Board Member Donna Bahorich says she thinks the five paths to graduation will help students think about their interests as they head to high school.
“Our students drop out at ninth grade," Bahorich said. "Maybe this is an opportunity for our middle schools to start getting them thinking about their future."
Current eighth graders will be the first grade to automatically graduate high school under the new requirements.