A new state mandate eliminating Algebra 2 as a basic high school graduation requirement, known as House Bill 5 (HB5), has “a lot more to it” and Weatherford ISD administrators think it opens up “a whole new world” for students.
Prior to Thursday’s regular meeting of the Board of Trustees, board members were given information on the implications of the bill and how it affects current and future students.
“We don’t know everything but we know everything we need to know,” said Deputy Superintendent Holly Teague.
Assisted by Linda Crownover, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Weatherford High School principal Lynn Pool, Teague explained that the new Foundation Graduation Plan replaces the current plan for minimum graduation requirements and allows students to pick from five endorsements as a course of study beginning in eighth grade. Endorsements include STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities and Multidisciplinary Studies.
“We are proud to say that Weatherford ISD will be offering all five endorsements; not every district can do that,” Teague said.
Pool said that students entering ninth grade will pick an endorsement, along with their parents, using a program called Career Cruising that will be embedded in the Touch System Data course. Trustees were given sample graduation plans for students interested in a few of the endorsements to show what the new requirements look like.
While some board members were concerned about making students choose a career path so early, Teague and Pool stressed that students can add another endorsement in 10th grade with their parents approval.
“We are asking parents to be patient [while we go through all transcripts] but we are going to help kids explore their options,” Pool said.
Another implication of HB5 is the reduction in the number of required end-of-course assessments from 15 to five, including English Language Arts 1, English Arts 2, Algebra 1, Biology and U.S. History. Crownover said, however, that Algebra would still require two exams - one at the beginning and one at the end - and that a waiver sent to the federal government was denied the day of the meeting.
WISD Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Hanks said the recommendations given to the board were simply the basic ones that were outlined in HB5 from the state and that WISD was doing nothing more at this point. Board president Paul Paschall said that other board members across the state had expressed resistance to HB5 at a recent conference and that he was proud of how WISD was handling it.
“We have to get this right for our students,” Teague said.
At the regular meeting, Tison Middle School principal Carrie Harrison had some students demonstrate Career Cruising to board members in her campus report. Board member Dave Cowley commented about how impressed he was with the technological savvy of the students but also their people skills.
“Don’t lose that because that will get you places in life,” he said. “Looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand is a skill and I commend their parents for that.”