This school year’s eighth graders are the first class of students required to choose one of five tracks of high school study as outlined under House Bill 5.

It was signed by Gov. Rick Perry last June and cut End of Course Assessments (EOCs), all of which were part of the graduation requirements beginning with the freshman class of 2011–2012, from 15 tests to five.

It was overwhelmingly supported in the House with 147 representatives voting in favor, none were opposed. Three abstained or didn’t vote.

Though there was much reported on the reduction of EOCs when the bill passed last summer, a second component to the bill did not get much mention.

Before, general graduation requirements were the 4x4 standards which required four years of coursework in each of the core subjects — math, English, science and social studies.
HB 5 legislation sought to develop a more flexible yet more college- and career- focused graduation plan.

The differnce is a greater emphasis on career minus the college than what was found in the previous standard.

“We’re not trying to make everybody go to college anymore,” said Bryson ISD Superintendent David Stout. “The 4x4 pushed everybody to college. Well that’s fine, but the fact is some of them are not going to choose to go to college and some of them will have extremely successful careers in fields that do not require a college degree.

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This new law allows us to serve all of our student populations, not just the kids that are going to college, but still allows us to serve the kids that are. We didn’t lose anything.”

The foundation graduation program under HB 5 will replace the other high school graduation programs of coursework — minimum, recommended and distinguised achievement.

It includes 22 credits divided up as: English and langauge arts (4); math (3); science (3); social studies (3); foreign languages, which no include computer programming languages (2); fine arts (1); PE, which now includes credit for athletic pursuits outside of the school day (1); and electives (5). Students will still be required to obtain 26 credits in Bryson and Jacksboro. Perrin’s board recently proposed a 24 credit graduation minimum requirement.

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, a school district must ensure that each student, on entering ninth grade, indicates in writing one of five endorsements that the student intends to earn. The endorsements are STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), business and industry, public services , arts and humanities and multidisciplinary studies.

Eighth graders going into high school next year must choose a path of study under one of the endorsements which worries some, but educators say it shouldn’t.

To read the complete article, see the May 16 edition of the Herald.