New high school graduation requirements recommended

New high school graduation requirements recommended The state Board of Education is in the process of considering what all students should study before they graduate from high school in South Dakota. The board recently heard a recommendation from the Department of Education regarding proposed changes to graduation requirements for high school students.

"The new requirements focus on raising expectations for students graduating from high school," Gov. Mike Rounds said.

The new recommendation emphasizes areas of instruction that have not been a part of the existing mandates. In addition to the requirements already in place, the new recommended graduation standards call for three years of math and science, one semester of study in economic/personal finance, one semester of health/physical education, and one semester of world history. The addition of new requirements will result in fewer electives for students.

The proposed requirements also allow students to choose two credits of study in any combination of world languages, computer studies, or career and technical education to meet the requirements for a high school diploma.

"We know that the quality and intensity of high school coursework is the single most important determinant of who succeeds in post secondary education or the world of work," said Glenna Fouberg, president of the state Board of Education, "so we need to meet the challenge of making our high school curriculum more rigorous."

"More courses in math, science, personal finance, health and physical education will better prepare South Dakota students for the world they will enter after graduation," Education Secretary Rick Melmer said.

Melmer also noted that the proposed requirements are a response to House Bill 1001 passed by the legislature last year, which calls for basic graduation requirements as well as a recommended course of study. Melmer said the recommended path is one which all students will take, unless their parents and the school agree the basic level is more appropriate for the student. The recommended curriculum requires more courses in math and science.

At this time, the Board of Education has not taken action. The department plans to request input from the public at various meetings around the state during the summer and fall of 2004.

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