They are keeping the high school’s four counselors up late.
The new requirements are part of House Bill 5, which also reduced the number of STAAR tests students are required to take.
Under HB5, students have two plans by which to be graduated:
•Foundation — the minimum of 22 credits courses required; parental permission is required for a student to be graduated under the foundation, or minimum, plan.
•Foundation with Endorsement — which can include a distinguished level of achievement by taking higher-level classes or extra-credit classes.
Endorsements are five different disciplines, including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities and Multi-Disciplinary Studies.
Most students will be graduated under the second plan.
The new system is aimed at expanding vocational classes for students who do not wish to go to college.
The number of vocational classes has so expanded that it required a 35-page PowerPoint presentation for Dr. Sue Thomas, the BISD superintendent of schools, to explain the new system to the board.
“It’s going to take me forever to learn this,” Thomas told the board at its regular meeting March 18.
Courses listed under the new legislation not offered at A.C. Jones High School will be available online, Thomas says.
“Really, a lot of schools, including us, pushed for the legislation,” Thomas says. “The current plans were really restrictive. Everyone more or less had to take all the same courses.”
Those courses, she says, were based on the premise that every student would attend a four-year university. “But it made it difficult (because) a lot of the students who were successful in career-tech had a difficult time getting in all their career-tech courses as well as the required courses to be graduated.”
The new system affords much more flexibility in course selection, “but that flexibility means there are a lot more courses you have to offer.
“What I like about it is the new system taps into the untapped resource of some of the really gifted students who don’t necessarily fall under the science, pure math areas,” she says.
An example of that flexibility is that previously to be graduated a student was required to take Algebra II. Under the new system, students still must take an advanced math course, but they can choose a different math course if they wish.
“The biggest issue is getting everybody to understand the new system. For the counselors, it’s like a nightmare,” Thomas says.
DeeDee Bernal, the A.C. Jones principal, is planning a community night event later this year to help explain the new system to parents and the community alike.
The district also is sending information to parents of freshmen students on the new system.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.