Middle school students to face new standardsto graduate

Published 3:38 pm Monday, March 19, 2007

By Staff
Martin County hosts regional meeting on high school core course of study
The State Board of Education and the state’s Department of Public Instruction are holding eight regional meetings to gather public input on implementing a new high school core course framework.
Today, Roanoke High School in Robersonville will host the public meeting for a 15-county region comprising the northeastern part of the state. The meeting runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
In December, the State Board of Education approved the core framework for high school students.
Participants in the regional meetings do not have to pre-register, but sign-ins will begin approximately 30 minutes before each meeting starts, the release states. Educators, parents, students, business leaders and others with an interest in high school requirements are encouraged to attend to learn more about the new core course of study and to provide input into its implementation.
The new requirements increase expectations for many high school students who may have been enrolled in the career or college tech prep courses of study, the release states. All students who begin the ninth grade in the fall of 2008 and later (this year’s seventh graders and below) will now prepare for graduation by completing the same 21-unit core courses. The new core includes:
Other state graduation requirements will continue to be in place. These include passing the end-of-course tests (in algebra I, English I, U.S. history, civics and economics and biology) and completing a graduation project. Local school boards will still have the authority to add to the state requirements. The new core will not affect students with disabilities who qualify for the occupational course of study.
Most students already take the core classes, the release notes, but the new standards increase graduation standards by requiring four mathematics courses and second-language study for all students.
Martin County Superintendent Tom Daly said the adopted framework would essentially make the admission requirements for universities the high-school graduation standards.
Daly said the plan makes sense “if you assume every student who graduates from high school is going to enter the university system; but that’s a big assumption.”
For students in Durham County or Martin County, that same assumption is equally valid, Daly said.
Currently, most students have three graduation options, or tracks, Daly said. Along with the regular diploma track, there is a college tech prep course of study and a college/university prep track.
Daly said he believes it was important to prepare all students for more advanced education than just high school.
He noted that the foreign-language component was one of the portions with which he disagreed.
Daly said the state had the right idea in the 1980s when it devised a plan to focus on composition arts, music and a foreign-language program from the point a child enters school up to graduation.
Daly said he also didn’t know how the state would fund the positions needed to teach a foreign language to every high school student.
In Martin County, he said, 50 percent of students graduate fulfilling the requirement that the new framework mandates for all students.
Daly said folks with children currently in middle school will be the ones affected by the new framework.