Graduation requirements are changing in Kentucky, beginning with the class of 2023.
The Kentucky Department of Education recently approved a change that would require students to complete exit exams in mathematics and reading before earning their high school diploma.
According to the proposal, students in the 10th grade will have to take reading and math tests. If necessary, students may retake the tests twice during each school year.
The proposal also requires students completing state science and social studies assessments, passing a state-mandated civics test, receiving instruction in financial literacy and demonstrating essential skills and technology.
Students will have to complete a minimum of 22 credits and will require completion of algebra I and geometry and two additional math classes aligned with the student’s ILP, three social studies credits, three science credits, one half health credit and one half physical education credit, one visual and performing arts credit and six additional credits aligned with the student’s ILP.
“Oct. 3, 2018, should be remembered as a day which will change the trajectory for Kentucky’s students,” said Kentucky Board of Education Chairman Hal Heiner. “Through these requirements we are setting a bar for students that will ensure that all Kentucky public high school graduates will be ready for college or a career immediately upon graduation.”
Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said he the changes were important to make sure students are prepared for careers and college.
“We have to do something different,” said Lewis. “If we cannot ensure that students do not have basic foundation al skills in mathematics, the jobs that require those skills in our economy will be closed to them.”
Mason County Schools Superintendent Rick Ross said he was pleased with portions of the new requirements as they align with the vision he has for Mason County students.
“Most of these requirements align with the vision of the Royal Diploma (our profile of a graduate) in Mason County. We have all the opportunities to show college a career readiness outlined in the state plan already in place through dual credit, advanced placement, and multiple career pathway offerings,” he said. “I am pleased that algebra II has been dropped as a requirement for all students. In its place will be coursework relevant to the individual student’s career pathway. For example, a student may take construction geometry or mathematics for engineers.”
Ross said he was, however, concerned with the exit exam required for students.
“I am concerned about the required exit exam. Very few details of what this test will look like, how it will be valid and reliable, etc. have been shared,” he said. “I also worry about the meaning of a ‘KDE-approved dual credit course.’ We have dual credits in agriculture, computer science, technical education, and other areas outside of math and English I fear will not be counted. I’m always worried about unintended consequences. I am against a focus on a single test to sort young people and determine the success of a school. We have many students who did not meet the state benchmark on ACT yet are successful in college or have already entered the workforce and are making a very good wage.”
Augusta Independent School Superintendent Lisa McCane said she approves of the new requirements.
“I like all aspects of the new graduation requirements specifically, they support a large sub population of students who are on a career and technical pathway and currently taking courses not meaningful to them and for the sake of the requirement,” she said. “These students will have greater flexibility to align their high school coursework accordingly and the courses traditionally for college track students will remain intact. I further support the additions of graduates having financial literacy, essential skills and basic reading and math skills. Raising the bar and expectations for graduates to have basic skills should be non-negotiable by any standard.”
The KBE will hear public comment for 30 days before the changes are finalized.