Board aims to add new Alabama graduation requirements

Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:43 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama State Board of Education has decided to move forward with the addition of new high school graduation requirements. Students will now have to meet a college or career-ready benchmark to get their diploma.

The change was made during the ALSDE’s monthly meeting in Montgomery on Thursday, but it was not a unanimous decision.

“I hope you will certainly join me in moving to close the gap between the college and career-readiness rate once and for all,” said Gov. Kay Ivey, who offered her support of the plan.

Enlisting in the military, completing a career and technical education or CTE program, or even a dual enrollment class are some of the new requirements that would prove students are college or career ready. A complete list can be found here.

However, there was some concern from several state board members regarding the new requirements.

“We have many students who are English learners, how will this affect them?” asked Belinda McRae, who represents District 7.

“Will there be flexibility in reference to special needs students?” questioned Board President Yvette Richardson, of District 4.

“Do you have a plan that will provide equitable funding for those school systems that are currently not able to provide the offerings that are available?” District 5′s Tonya Chestnut enquired.

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey answered many of the questions, explaining that students on alternate assessment pathways could be given different requirements. The state can also help set up certain programs, but the districts will have to sustain the programs financially.

“Everybody on the board wants to raise expectations for all of our students,” said Mackey, “but also wants to make sure that we’re doing it fairly and appropriately, making the right steps.”

And for the seven members who voted yes, the right steps are career and college-readiness requirements. Two members voted against it, including District 3′s Stephanie Bell.

“We’re not ready. I’m not ready to vote,” said Bell. “You talked about some of the superintendents haven’t heard about it, but parents were shocked.”

The deadline for public comment is Oct. 23. The earliest the board can officially adopt the changes will be at their November meeting.

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