Education Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-1026

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS.

Vote Date:

3/22/2017

Vote Action:

JOINT FAVORABLE

PH Date:

3/20/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Education Committee.

REASONS FOR BILL:

High School graduation requirements need to be looked at with care and precision so that Connecticut's high school students have the tools and readiness to succeed in the real world. SB 1026 works to revise high school graduation requirements to further raise expectations of high school students. Starting with classes graduating in 2023, 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-five credits, including not fewer than: (1) Nine credits in the humanities, including civics and the arts; (2) nine credits in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; (3) one credit in physical education and wellness; (4) one credit in world languages, subject to the provisions of subsection (g) of this section; and (5) a one credit mastery-based diploma assessment.

The bill also amends the original statute allowing schools to grant credits toward meeting high school graduation requirements upon the successful demonstration of mastery of the subject matter content as described in the minimum credits requirements. This is to be achieved through educational experiences and opportunities that provide flexible and multiple pathways to learning, including cross-curricular graduation requirements, career and technical education, virtual learning, work-based learning, service learning, dual enrollment and early college, courses taken in middle school, internships, and student-designed independent studies. Successful demonstration of mastery of the subject matter content must be in accordance with state-wide subject matter content standards.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Dianna Wentzell, Commissioner of State Department of Education (SDE):

The Department testified in support of SB 1026, because it raises expectations for increased coursework for all students, and groups credit by academic domain, rather than subject specific credit. This change maintains high expectations for students in STEM, humanities, wellness, and communication courses aligned to our state college and career readiness standards. The bill also provides students with the flexibility to develop their own individualized course pathways based on their interests and future plans. In addition, they support the bill because it creates a foundation for interdisciplinary courses and mastery-based learning activities that prepare students with hands-on contextualized learning opportunities and weaves credit across subjects within the domain.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Joseph J. Cirasuolo Executive Director of CT Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS):

CAPSS testified in strong support of SB 1026, commending the committee for the efforts put into this legislation expressing that the bill is well aligned with what students need to know and be able to do in the twenty first century. Moreover, CAPPS asserts that this bill specifies requirements that are well aligned with the content standards approved by the CT State Board of Education and yet gives local school districts ample flexibility when it comes to implementation strategies so that the districts need not incur burdensome expenses. CAPSS also applauded the fact that the bill's requirements would not be implemented until the graduating class of 2023, giving “CT school districts ample time to make the adjustments needed to implement the requirements”.

David Downes, Program Administrator for the Connecticut Association for Adults and Continuing Education (CAACE):

CAACE expressed support for SB 1026 and are happy about the personalization of learning and mastery-based approaches to the assessment of competency. This approach to learning is appropriate because it ensures Connecticut to produce students who are productive citizens and not just good test takers. In addition, this bill provides guidelines and standards to many towns that may not have the time or resources to determine a proper curriculum by themselves.

Karissa L. Niehoff, ED.D, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS):

CAS testified in support of SB 1026 commending the bill improvements of existing statute that this bill addresses. The graduation requirements outlined in current statute are overly prescriptive and do not align with the innovative practices needed to best prepare our students for success in the 21st century workplace and global society. Moreover, Connecticut high school principals are extremely concerned that the current requirements impose numerous facility, staffing, and fiscal challenges, and most importantly, requirements that will prohibit some students from meeting success despite their unique needs and abilities to do so.

Thomas Marak, Teacher at North Haven Public Schools and Teacher Representative on the Recent High School Graduation Requirement Task Force of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA):

Thomas testified his general observations of SB 1026. As written, SB 1026 includes provisions that provide more flexibility to schools to meet the unique needs of students. But it also shifts the balance between STEM and the Humanities, and replaces a senior project requirement with a vague requirement. Thomas continues to critique the bill in saying “by removing statutorily prescribed credits within subjects matter disciplines, the bill provides district with greater flexibility to shape programs of study to the unique needs of individual students”. Moreover, he is concerned that dropping career education credit can have a harmful effect on students that are interested in seeking careers in trades such as culinary arts, or business trades. Wrapping up his testimony, Thomas spoke about the possibility at further looking at the requirements for high school graduation.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

John Chunis, Rocky Hill resident:

John testified in opposition to SB 1026. John believes that this bill will lower our education standards in Connecticut. John also has concerns that under the bill's requirements high school graduates will be less prepared for a college level curriculum. John expressed his feelings that the graduation standard as of now is sufficient and should not be lowered.

Reported by: Anna Odoi

Date: 4/19/17