Kentucky’s revamped high school graduation requirements will go up for a first reading before the Kentucky Board of Education Thursday, part of a two-day retreat in Frankfort that begins at 9 a.m. today.
The requirements align with the state’s current 22-credit policy but add benchmarks to gauge college and career readiness. Graduates also will need to be to demonstrate proficiency in reading and math by the end of their sophomore year.
The proposed requirements are “aligned to the ‘profile of a graduate’ described by post-secondary educators and business and industry leaders,” an agenda document outlining the requirements states.
A new “transition-ready” component requires students to demonstrate either academic or career readiness by meeting one of multiple potential benchmarks. Around two-thirds of Kentucky’s high school graduates are considered college or career ready, Interim Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis said.
“We now graduate many more students than we did just a generation ago,” Lewis said in an explainer video about the requirements last Friday. “But our high school graduation rate has not translated into the successes into college attainment or employment that you would expect.”
Under the proposed changes, a student could prove their academic readiness by hitting a benchmark score on an unspecified college admission exam, receive a “B” grade or higher for six hours of dual credit classes, or take two Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes and pass the associated tests.
For career readiness, a student could hit a benchmark in an industry certification or end-of-program test, complete an apprenticeship or receive a “B” grade or higher in CTE (Career and Technical Education) dual credit classes worth six college credit hours.
By 10th grade, students will have to pass state tests in reading, and 11th-grade students must pass similar tests in social studies and science, Lewis said in the explainer video. In the 11th grade, students will also have to pass a civics test and learn about financial literacy, he said.
Students will still be required to earn a minimum of 22 credits to graduate, but the new requirements would split the credits between “foundational” courses and “personalized” courses.
Similar to general education requirements in college, foundational courses are specific classes that each student is expected to take, like English I and geometry.
Personalized courses allow students to pick classes in a certain subject that align with the skills and knowledge needed for their career interests. Career pathways and other learning experiences fall under the umbrella of personalized courses.
“A high school graduate should be able to communicate, achieve academically, think critically, adapt to change and collaborate,” the document says.
The requirements are slated to be implemented among high school freshmen in fall 2019 pending approval. The KBE is not expected to vote on the proposed requirements Thursday but could approve them as early as October.
Lewis said revising high school graduation requirements is one of his top priorities at the last KBE meeting in June.
Insider Louisville reached out to the KBE for comment on the proposed changes but did not hear back by press time.