Backlash bill seeking to dilute new high school grad requirements in math and science filed by Senate budget chief

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander has filed a bill (SB 1614) intended to undermine the new high school graduation requirements in math and science approved by the legislature and Governor last year.

The bill is an answer to prayer for the FSBA, which included in its legislative agenda this statement:

Revise high school graduation requirements to accommodate students who wish to pursue a college ready curriculum and those who wish to pursue a career ready curriculum, and amend the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to allow Career and Professional Education Academies the flexibility to implement applied math and science courses.

Alexander’s bill is specifically intended to address students in “career academies” and “Honors ROTC” programs.  It would change the statute language on graduation standards in math as shown in bold here:

Beginning with students entering grade 9 in the 2010-2011 school year, in addition to the Algebra I credit requirement, one of the four credits in mathematics must be geometry, or a series of courses equivalent to geometry, or a rigorous course consistent with the intent of the student’s career program in which he or she is enrolled as approved by the State Board of Education.

For science, the amended language would read (with the changes in bold):

Beginning with students entering grade 9 in the 2013-2014 school year, one of the three credits must be Biology I or a series of courses equivalent to Biology I as approved by the State Board of Education, one credit must be chemistry or physics, or a series of courses equivalent to chemistry or physics, or a rigorous course consistent with the intent of the student’s career program in which he or she is enrolled as approved by the State Board of  Education, and one credit must be an equally rigorous course, as determined by the State Board of Education.

Notice that biology isn’t replaced in the career student’s program – it’s “chemistry or physics.”

As of this writing, there is no House companion.  But there is sure to be one.

Update (3:00 pm): School Zone has posted a report on SB 1614 and linked back to this post.

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8 Responses to Backlash bill seeking to dilute new high school grad requirements in math and science filed by Senate budget chief

  1. steve says:

    just what sort of Alg ii, chem or physics curriculum would be taught if everyone had to take those classes.
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    I’m glad the requirement is being removed. If you thought there was a drop out problem now this would have taken it to mysthical levels

    • Paul Cottle says:

      For other readers…Steve is a regular commenter on the Orlando Sentinel School Zone blog. He linked here today from the School Zone post on SB 1614.

      I actually agree with Steve that the traditional Florida Chem 1 and Physics 1 courses are not appropriate for some students. But what I’d like to see is a course for these students that would cover the new state standards in the physical sciences. Instead, it is quite possible that these students will not have any physical science at all.

      I have argued in the past that a good physical science course would do the job of addressing the physical science standards for these students better than the Chem 1 or Physics 1 requirement. If the rumor mill is correct, Steve is a high school science teacher in a central Florida school district, and he would probably have something to say about the prospects of teaching such a course to a group of non-college bound students.

      The issue of the impact of the SB 4 requirements on graduation rates is worth addressing briefly. Several districts in Florida (notably Duval and Brevard) have had similar graduation requirements for years. It would be difficult to argue convincingly that their graduation rates would be significantly higher if they lowered their math and science requirements.

  2. steve says:

    Paul – I taught from 1978 to 1985. I have been in a hi-tech industry for the past 26 years. This law does not affect me directly. What it would do is put more folks on the street.
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    I would like to see courses that were focused on physics for the vocational student. It may be Newtonian, some heat transfer, some EM applied to real world events. There is a ton more but I’m just painting a picture.
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    The physics I taught in 1982-85 was not for every kid.
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    Agree, a good physical science class using everyday events would be much better and fun. It would have to interesting to the kid. My early time was spent teaching low-level math and to low-level learners. There is not a chance in heck for them to pass physics.
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    Look at all the physics you could teach in automotive repair, carpentry, or plumbing.
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    just to be clear, I am a teacher advocate. I do not like all the inept legislation. This will be used against teachers.
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    They would lose their jobs based on single test scores using invalid tests and inadequate Value Added Assessment models.
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    At the end of the day, you would not have anyone willing teach these subjects.

    • Paul Cottle says:

      Of course, Steve is right on target here. What he describes is the ideal physical science course. If there are physical science standards Steve’s course would not meet, then so be it.

      The FDOE has already approved Principles of Technology I and II as a substitute for Physics 1. See

      http://www.fldoe.org/BII/sb4i.asp

      for details (click on “Equivalent Courses for Mathematics and Science”)

      I’m afraid I haven’t seen course descriptions for these courses, but they may be along the lines that Steve is suggesting.

      When the course substitutions were announced last summer, I sent Todd Clark a “thank you” e-mail. This is all good.

      Unfortunately, Senator Alexander’s bill simply says that there are classes of students in our high schools who don’t need to be scientifically literate. That is a whole different thing altogether.

      • steve says:

        too funny. Senator, you could replace scientifically with almost every subject area.
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        I think this may be the dumbest statement I have ever heard from any legislator.

    • Doc Carr says:

      Given your background Steve, I wonder what you think of the odds of those kids passing an Algebra I end-of-course exam!

  3. Pingback: Backlash bill: The bottom line « Bridge to Tomorrow

  4. steve says:

    sorry for the late response.
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    Based on the Alg 1 curriculum I was required to teach, not much of a chance. Many of the kids had disabilities. Not physical or mental but low IQ, low attention spans and many had emotional problems.
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    I’m not sure that if you even broke the curriculum up and taught it over several years that they would have passed.
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    If you taught alg and geometry along with how to build a house you would get many of the concepts across to them.
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    The other factor is education in the US is not reinforced by our government. They continually tell the public how awful it is, give the parents and students every excuse to fail and blame it on the teachers.
    -
    There is no respect and why does everyone have to have alg and be college ready?

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