This fall’s incoming 9th graders at Friendswood High School will not only be “the Class of 2018,” but also the first to be using new graduation requirements passed in the last session of the Texas legislature. House Bill 5 allows high school students to participate in a process similar to declaring a major, which the legislators called “endorsements.”
The new process does not affect students currently in 9th grade or above.
Already, 9th graders indicate what classes they intend to take in their four years at FHS and they have opportunities to change that each year. That stays in place.
They will continue to have required English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Foreign Languages, Fine Arts, Physical Education and electives (totaling 22 credits, plus four in an endorsement).
In addition, they will now declare an endorsement path, which can also be changed by the student, for four credits.
There will be five endorsement paths: 1) STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), 2) Business and Industry, 3) Public Services, 4) Arts and Humanities, and 5) Multi-disciplinary Studies.
“The graduation requirements for incoming 9th Grade students are different from the current plan, but it is not a drastic change,” said Diane Myers, FISD Senior Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum. “Having students go through the process of choosing an endorsement is also new, but very similar to choosing a major in college. It allows them to select courses further in advance.”
The State Board of Education was tasked by state legislators with creating the rules and details that House Bill 5 requires. It is currently in “draft” form. They should finish their work by the end of January.
FISD staff has been studying the draft rules so they can quickly implement the necessary changes once they become “final,” for classes that begin in August.
“We’ve put a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ effort into preparing to have the right staff and facilities in place for incoming freshmen, who will be under the requirements of the new legislation. Once we get the final rules, we will make available a lot of information that helps incoming 9th grade students get a valuable, personalized education to the extent that the new law allows,” said Trish Hanks, FISD Superintendent.
In addition to detailed electronic communication from the District, FISD will host meetings for parents to hear the new plans explained and ask questions about them.