• October 31, 2014

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Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2014 4:30 am

Local school districts are gearing up to counsel students on new state-mandated graduation requirements.

“The current graduation plan forces many of our students to take algebra II even if their career plans don’t require it,” said Ed Braeuer, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Belton Independent School District. “The new graduation plan will give our students greater flexibility to take the classes that best fit their career plans.”

Algebra II was dropped as part of the Legislature’s academic curriculum overhaul designed to give schools and students more flexibility to focus on vocational training for high-paying jobs that don’t necessarily require a college degree.

Since the class is no longer required to graduate from Texas high schools, districts expect a decrease in the number of students enrolling in the course. However, officials will still encourage students who need to need the course for future plans to enroll.

“It is possible that a student, who should take algebra II based on his or her post-secondary plan, won’t,” Braeuer said. “This is why guidance and counseling will become even more important.”

In addition to dropping algebra II, the Texas Board of Education adopted two new math courses last week. They’re designed to cover much of the same material offered in the dropped math course.

The new high-level math courses — statistics and algebraic reasoning — are expected to be available for districts in the 2015-2016 school year.

Killeen Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Diana Miller said the new courses are “definitely a positive” and that the new graduation requirements allow freshmen to create specialized graduation plans based on their career goals.

“(It) provides students with flexibility so they can reach their individual goals,” said Miller, adding the school will still offer algebra II and courses that require algebra II as a prerequisite.

The course is still being offered because it’s required for students to be considered in the top 10 percent policy that grants automatic admission to public universities in Texas.

Braeuer said it’s too soon to predict the effects of the new policy or how it will shift teachers in the math department to align with math courses students chose to enroll in.

“We anticipate that our staffing needs may shift over time,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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