Earning a high school diploma in Coeur d’Alene will be tougher beginning with this year’s eighth-graders under new graduation standards approved Monday by the school board.
Starting with the graduating class of 2012, students in the Coeur d’Alene School District will need three years of math and science to graduate instead of two. One of those math classes needs to be taken during their senior year, and two of the three years of science need to be laboratory-based.
A required senior project went into effect with this year’s seniors, and, beginning with this year’s seventh-graders, all students will take a college entrance exam, such as the SAT or ACT. The increased math and science requirements mirror those passed by the Idaho Legislature this year but take effect a year earlier.
“There’s no reason to wait,” board chairwoman Edie Brooks said. “We need it.”
Educators think the increased requirements will make students more competitive and better prepared for college and for the work force, where math- and science-based jobs are on the rise.
The board approved the senior project requirement in August but postponed approving the other requirements to allow for public forums. District Curriculum Director Jim Facciano presented the new requirements at the three middle school open houses last month, and four people attended a public forum held last week.
“The response from the people there was ‘Hooray, we think this is a great idea; it’s about time,’ ” Facciano said.
Post Falls High School already requires three years of math and science, though none must be taken during the senior year.
A contentious statewide debate, in part over what greater math and science requirements would mean for electives like band and art, mired the state Board of Education’s first attempt to get the Legislature to increase graduation standards in 2006.
But scaled back requirements – the original proposal called for four years of math – and a series of public forums held across the state seemed to calm concerns, and the requirements were easily approved during the 2007 legislative session.