High schoolers to get grad plans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Come fall, entering freshmen students in Alabama will have a new graduation plan – one that will be designed to put them on a college or career-ready track.

At Tues-day’s Opp Board of Educa-tion meeting, Superintendent Michael Smithart told the board that the state board of education last week finalized its Plan 2020.

The board approved the measure last year. It is designed to place more attention on readying students for college or careers after graduation in an attempt to overcome the effects of the federal No Child Left Behind, which many educators deem ineffective.

In fact, a report released in 2011 showed that more than a third of the freshmen enrolled in Alabama’s colleges had to take at least one remedial course.

“The new plan will have one approach with individualized programs,” Smithart said.

Smithart said that the state will recognize one diploma, but local systems may develop their own endorsements.

“We’re working on a presentation for (the board),” he said. “We have to decide if we want a career tech endorsement or an honors endorsement. The transcript will be the driver now.”

The new Alabama High School diploma will go into effect in August for entering freshmen.

Students will be required to take four credits of English; four credits of mathematics, including algebra, geometry and algebra with trig or algebra II; four credits of science, including biology and physical science; four credits of social studies, including world history, two U.S. history courses and government and economics; one credit of physical education; one-half credit of health education; one credit of career preparedness, including career and academic planning, computer applications and financial literacy; three credits of foreign language and or arts education; and two-and-a-half credits of electives.

For special needs students, Smithart said there would be substitution courses available.

“(State schools Superintendent) Dr. (Tommy) Bice has come up with some good ideas,” Smithart said.

In other business, the board:

• Voted to expel two students for a period of one year. The vote came after a nearly 30-minute closed session.

• approved the December financials; and

• adopted the entire list of English language arts state-adopted textbooks;