Invitation to All Points: Career-ready high school education in Texas

Posted Sunday, Apr. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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One of the primary goals of House Bill 5, the Legislature's main education reform bill in this year's session, is to shift away from an emphasis on preparing all students for college and focus more on those who want to move directly from high school to a career or technical field.

There's a delicate balance involved, because it's the job of educators to help students reach their goals but at the same time not decide for them which path to take. Schools must not steer some kids to college and some not.

HB5 passed the House overwhelmingly (147-2) on March 27. The Senate Education Committee changed it somewhat but gave it a strong endorsement April 22 and sent it on for a floor vote. A conference committee could be called on to blend the House and Senate versions.

Here are key provisions of the bill as it was sent to the full Senate:

By Sept. 1, 2014, the State Board of Education is to develop at least six advanced career and technology courses that would satisfy math requirements for high school graduation.

Students must be offered a course on career exploration in the seventh or eighth grade.

Students may earn "endorsements" on their high school diplomas by completing course work focused on business and industry; arts and humanities; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); or an advanced curriculum labeled "distinguished achievement."

When entering ninth grade, students must designate in writing which endorsement they intend to earn. They can change that designation at any time. Students may graduate without an endorsement, but only if parents give their permission in writing.

Parents must make difficult decisions. Is or was your seventh- or eighth-grader ready to explore careers and make even a preliminary decision? Were you ready at that time in your life?

Is/was your ninth-grader ready to decide on a high school graduation plan?

Please share your opinion.

Send no more than 150 words with your name, address and daytime phone number to letters@star-telegram.com. Deadline is Wednesday, with publication next Monday.

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