During the recent session of the Texas legislature, House Bill 3 was passed which included a change in the state requirements for high school graduation. The District received a letter from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on June 26, 2009 and again on July 3, 2009 with information about the new requirements. Typically, new graduation requirements take effect with the incoming freshman class. However, the new HB 3 graduation requirements impact all high school students beginning with the 2009-2010 school year. That the TEA chose not to phase in these new requirements with the incoming freshmen and did so at such a late date has caused much confusion. As always, the RISD is committed to providing accurate and timely information to students and families. While we still do not have complete and clear direction from the state, we wanted to share with you what we do know.
Students in the RISD, with a few exceptions, have had the ability to choose from two graduation plans – the Recommended High School Program (RHSP) or the Distinguished Academic Program (DAP). Students who started 9th grade prior to 2007-08 must graduate with 24 credits. Students who started 9th grade after 2007-08 (4 x 4 students) must graduate with 26 credits. The HB 3 changes have provided more flexibility in the enrichment (elective) areas for both of these groups who will graduate under the RHSP or the DAP without changing the number of credits necessary to graduate. HB 3 states that students will no longer be required to take Health or Technology Applications, and only 1 credit of Physical Education instead of 1.5 credits. Students may not be required to take the 0.5 credit of Speech under the new plan requirements; however, this has not been fully clarified by TEA.
Perhaps the biggest challenge created by this untimely change in graduation plan requirements is that our high schools are staffed based on student schedules created last spring. It will be difficult to accommodate large numbers of students requesting schedule changes. We encourage students to continue with their pre-enrolled schedule since the courses are all worthwhile and offer students knowledge and skills necessary to continue their education or to enter the workforce. The state may no longer require the courses, but some post-secondary institutions will, especially technology applications courses. Most seniors are on track to graduate and the courses they selected last spring are still valid. In August, counselors will review all student schedules to ensure they have the classes needed, including those affected by the changes by HB 3. Any courses already taken by students toward their graduation plan will continue to count as a required or elective courses toward graduation.
We expect further clarification from TEA within the next week, including a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document. The State Board of Education (SBOE) will meet next week and we should get more information on the speech requirement. Please watch our website www.risd.org for updated information.
In summary . . .
- HB 3 allows students more electives by eliminating health, technology applications, ½ credit of physical education and possibly* speech as required courses.
- The RISD encourages students to continue with their pre-enrollment schedules for the 2009-10 school year due to the late notice of the graduation plan changes.
- Courses no longer required by the state may be requirements for college or post-secondary program entry (please check college/post-secondary entry requirements).
- Courses already taken prior to HB 3 changes will count toward student graduation plans.
High school counselors will return to work on August 3, 2009.
Attached please find two side-by-side comparison charts produced by TEA. One outlines graduation requirements for students who entered 9th grade before 2007-08 and one reflects graduation requirements for students who entered 9th grade in 2007-08 or later.
*Speech may not be required pending notice from TEA.