Connecticut Seal

Substitute Senate Bill No. 1059

Public Act No. 15-237

AN ACT CONCERNING HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 10-221a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(a) For classes graduating from 1988 to 2003, inclusive, no local or regional board of education shall permit any student to graduate from high school or grant a diploma to any student who has not satisfactorily completed a minimum of twenty credits, not fewer than four of which shall be in English, not fewer than three in mathematics, not fewer than three in social studies, not fewer than two in science, not fewer than one in the arts or vocational education and not fewer than one in physical education.

(b) For classes graduating from 2004 to [2019] 2020, inclusive, no local or regional board of education shall permit any student to graduate from high school or grant a diploma to any student who has not satisfactorily completed a minimum of twenty credits, not fewer than four of which shall be in English, not fewer than three in mathematics, not fewer than three in social studies, including at least a one-half credit course on civics and American government, not fewer than two in science, not fewer than one in the arts or vocational education and not fewer than one in physical education.

(c) Commencing with classes graduating in [2020] 2021, and for each graduating class thereafter, no local or regional board of education shall permit any student to graduate from high school or grant a diploma to any student who has not satisfactorily completed (1) a minimum of twenty-five credits, including not fewer than: (A) Nine credits in the humanities, including not fewer than (i) four credits in English, including composition; (ii) three credits in social studies, including at least one credit in American history and at least one-half credit in civics and American government; (iii) one credit in fine arts; and (iv) one credit in a humanities elective; (B) eight credits in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including not fewer than (i) four credits in mathematics, including algebra I, geometry and algebra II or probability and statistics; (ii) three credits in science, including at least one credit in life science and at least one credit in physical science; and (iii) one credit in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics elective; (C) three and one-half credits in career and life skills, including not fewer than (i) one credit in physical education; (ii) one-half credit in health and safety education, as described in section 10-16b; and (iii) two credits in career and life skills electives, such as career and technical education, English as a second language, community service, personal finance, public speaking and nutrition and physical activity; (D) two credits in world languages, subject to the provisions of subsection (g) of this section; and (E) a one credit senior demonstration project or its equivalent, as approved by the State Board of Education; and (2) end of the school year examinations for the following courses: (A) Algebra I, (B) geometry, (C) biology, (D) American history, and (E) grade ten English.

(d) Commencing with classes graduating in [2020] 2021, and for each graduating class thereafter, local and regional boards of education shall provide adequate student support and remedial services for students beginning in grade seven. Such student support and remedial services shall provide alternate means for a student to complete any of the high school graduation requirements or end of the school year examinations described in subsection (c) of this section, if such student is unable to satisfactorily complete any of the required courses or exams. Such student support and remedial services shall include, but not be limited to, (1) allowing students to retake courses in summer school or through an on-line course; (2) allowing students to enroll in a class offered at a constituent unit of the state system of higher education, as defined in section 10a-1, pursuant to subdivision (4) of subsection (g) of this section; (3) allowing students who received a failing score, as determined by the Commissioner of Education, on an end of the school year exam to take an alternate form of the exam; and (4) allowing those students whose individualized education programs state that such students are eligible for an alternate assessment to demonstrate competency on any of the five core courses through success on such alternate assessment.

(e) Any student who presents a certificate from a physician or advanced practice registered nurse stating that, in the opinion of the physician or advanced practice registered nurse, participation in physical education is medically contraindicated because of the physical condition of such student, shall be excused from the physical education requirement, provided the credit for physical education may be fulfilled by an elective.

(f) Determination of eligible credits shall be at the discretion of the local or regional board of education, provided the primary focus of the curriculum of eligible credits corresponds directly to the subject matter of the specified course requirements. The local or regional board of education may permit a student to graduate during a period of expulsion pursuant to section 10-233d, if the board determines the student has satisfactorily completed the necessary credits pursuant to this section. The requirements of this section shall apply to any student requiring special education pursuant to section 10-76a, except when the planning and placement team for such student determines the requirement not to be appropriate. For purposes of this section, a credit shall consist of not less than the equivalent of a forty-minute class period for each school day of a school year except for a credit or part of a credit toward high school graduation earned (1) at an institution accredited by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or Office of Higher Education or regionally accredited, (2) through on-line coursework that is in accordance with a policy adopted pursuant to subsection (g) of this section, or (3) through a demonstration of mastery based on competency and performance standards, in accordance with guidelines adopted by the State Board of Education.

(g) Only courses taken in grades nine to twelve, inclusive, shall satisfy [this] the graduation [requirement] requirements set forth in this section, except that a local or regional board of education may grant a student credit (1) toward meeting a specified course requirement upon the successful completion in grade seven or eight of any course, the primary focus of which corresponds directly to the subject matter of a specified course requirement in grades nine to twelve, inclusive; (2) toward meeting the high school graduation requirement upon the successful completion of a world language course (A) in grade six, seven or eight, (B) through on-line coursework, or (C) offered privately through a nonprofit provider, provided such student achieves a passing grade on an examination prescribed, within available appropriations, by the Commissioner of Education and such credits do not exceed four; (3) toward meeting the high school graduation requirement upon achievement of a passing grade on a subject area proficiency examination identified and approved, within available appropriations, by the Commissioner of Education, regardless of the number of hours the student spent in a public school classroom learning such subject matter; (4) toward meeting the high school graduation requirement upon the successful completion of coursework during the school year or summer months at an institution accredited by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or Office of Higher Education or regionally accredited. One three-credit semester course, or its equivalent, at such an institution shall equal one-half credit for purposes of this section; (5) toward meeting the high school graduation requirement upon the successful completion of on-line coursework, provided the local or regional board of education has adopted a policy in accordance with this subdivision for the granting of credit for on-line coursework. Such a policy shall ensure, at a minimum, that (A) the workload required by the on-line course is equivalent to that of a similar course taught in a traditional classroom setting, (B) the content is rigorous and aligned with curriculum guidelines approved by the State Board of Education, where appropriate, (C) the course engages students and has interactive components, which may include, but are not limited to, required interactions between students and their teachers, participation in on-line demonstrations, discussion boards or virtual labs, (D) the program of instruction for such on-line coursework is planned, ongoing and systematic, and (E) the courses are (i) taught by teachers who are certified in the state or another state and have received training on teaching in an on-line environment, or (ii) offered by institutions of higher education that are accredited by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or Office of Higher Education or regionally accredited; or (6) toward meeting the high school graduation requirement upon the successful completion of the academic advancement program, pursuant to section 10-5c.

(h) A local or regional board of education may offer one-half credit in community service which, if satisfactorily completed, shall qualify for high school graduation credit pursuant to this section, provided such community service is supervised by a certified school administrator or teacher and consists of not less than fifty hours of actual service that may be performed at times when school is not regularly in session and not less than ten hours of related classroom instruction. For purposes of this section, community service does not include partisan political activities. The State Board of Education shall assist local and regional boards of education in meeting the requirements of this section. The State Board of Education shall award a community service recognition award to any student who satisfactorily completes fifty hours or more of community service in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.

(i) (1) A local or regional board of education may award a diploma to a veteran, as defined in subsection (a) of section 27-103, of World War II or the Korean hostilities, as described in section 51-49h, or of the Vietnam Era, as defined in subsection (a) of section 27-103, who withdrew from high school prior to graduation in order to serve in the armed forces of the United States and did not receive a diploma as a consequence of such service.

(2) A local or regional board of education may award a diploma to any person who (A) withdrew from high school prior to graduation to work in a job that assisted the war effort during World War II, December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946, inclusive, (B) did not receive a diploma as a consequence of such work, and (C) has been a resident of the state for at least fifty consecutive years.

(j) For the school year commencing July 1, 2012, and each school year thereafter, each local and regional board of education shall create a student success plan for each student enrolled in a public school, beginning in grade six. Such student success plan shall include a student's career and academic choices in grades six to twelve, inclusive.

Sec. 2. (Effective from passage) (a) There is established a task force to study the following issues related to the high school graduation requirements, described in section 10-221a of the general statutes, as amended by this act: (1) The alignment of the changes to the high school graduation requirements commencing with classes graduating in 2021, pursuant to subsection (c) of section 10-221a of the general statutes, as amended by this act, with the Common Core State Standards, adopted by the State Board of Education on July 7, 2010, pursuant to section 10-4 of the general statutes, and (2) the feasibility of including training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation as part of the high school graduation requirements.

(b) The task force shall consist of the following members: (1) The Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's designee, (2) one representative from each of the following associations, designated by each such association, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, the Connecticut Association of Schools, Connecticut Federation of School Administrators, the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut, and (3) two persons selected by the Commissioner of Education, including, but not limited to, teachers and any other person the commissioner deems appropriate.

(c) All appointments to the task force shall be made not later than thirty days after the effective date of this section. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(d) The representative from the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents shall serve as the chairperson of the task force. Such chairperson shall schedule the first meeting of the task force, which shall be held not later than sixty days after the effective date of this section.

(e) Not later than January 1, 2016, the task force shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. The task force shall terminate on the date that it submits such report or January 1, 2016, whichever is later.

Approved June 30, 2015