TEA News Releases Online
Nov. 20, 2009
State Board of Education revises graduation plans
and updates ethics policies
AUSTIN – The State Board of Education today gave preliminary approval to revisions to two high school graduation plans to bring them in line with the Recommended High School Program.
This spring, the Texas Legislature eliminated some specific course requirements students must complete for the Recommended High School Program (RHSP), which is the graduation plan followed by most Texas public school students.
Legislators eliminated the requirement that students take a one-semester health class, a one-year technology applications class and reduced the amount of physical education classes high school students must take by one semester. By doing so, students are given more flexibility to take elective courses. Students who entered ninth grade in the 2007-2008 school year and beyond are still required to earn four credits each of math, science, English and social studies.
Because students sometimes transfer between graduation plans, the board took preliminary action to align the 22-credit Minimum High School Program and the 26-credit Distinguished Achievement Program (DAP) with the 26-credit Recommended Program.
These changes include:
• Eliminating the requirement that students take a health class;
• Eliminating the requirement that students take a technology applications class;
• Reducing the number of physical education credits required from 1.5 to one credit;
• Increasing the number of elective credits to 7.5 for the minimum plan and 4.5 for the DAP.
In addition, under all three graduation programs, students will be allowed to earn up to four credits for athletics. Team sports and individual sports will be replaced with four new courses.
Board members also added courses that may be taken for math, science, fine arts and speech credit. A Career and Technical Education class called Professional Communications could now be taken for speech credit under this proposal.
The board approved three courses that students will be able to take for math credit under the Minimum High School Program and the Recommended High School Program. Those are: Mathematical Applications in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Engineering Mathematics; and Statistics and Risk Management. Students will be able to take Engineering Mathematics and Statistics for Risk Management under the DAP.
Additional classes will also be available for science credit. Students following the Recommended and DAP programs could receive science credit for classes such as Engineering Design and Problem Solving, Advanced Biotechnology, Advanced Animal Science, Advanced Plant and Soil Science and Food Science.
To comply with new legislative requirements, the board also added a fine arts credit to the Minimum plan.
All of these changes are subject to review and final approval at the Jan. 13-15 board meeting.
The board, which already had one of the most stringent ethics policies in state government, also revised ethics policies that govern board members and those bidding for work with the board or contracting with the board. Board members are now required to annually report all businesses in which they hold a substantial interest. This will provide transparency in determining whether any potential conflicts of interest exist.
The board also revised a disclosure requirement to bring it into alignment with the rules of the Texas Ethics Commission. The rule now requires those doing business with the board to disclose if they have spent more than $250 during the preceding four years on a board member. Previously, the board’s rule had a $50 disclosure requirement, which caused a disparity with Ethics Commission requirements.
The board adopted new English language arts and reading materials, which will make 2,200 new products available for use in Texas classrooms next fall. The state expects to spend about $465 million on these materials over the next year. The board refused to purchase a statewide license offered by one publisher.
Because the value of the Permanent School Fund has rebounded to almost $22 billion, the board voted to transfer $60.7 million to the Available School Fund, which provides funds to public schools. Earlier this year, it appeared unlikely that funds would be available for this transfer because of the downturn in the market.