With a preliminary vote Nov. 22, 2013, the State Board of Education indicated it will require high school students to take Algebra II only if pursuing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) endorsement or distinguished level of achievement under the Foundation High School Program when it goes into effect in 2014-15. The SBOE will take a final vote on the Foundation High School Program rules in January 2014.

The nearly unanimous vote (only SBOE member Martha Dominguez voted against the revised rules) came after a public hearing Nov. 20 at which both House Public Education Committee Chair Jimmie Don Aycock and Senate Education Committee Chair Dan Patrick testified. They told the SBOE that when legislators passed HB 5, which created the Foundation program, they had not intended for Algebra II to be required for every endorsement under the new graduation program.

"We specifically left it out of the law," Aycock told board members. He noted that the goal was to give students the flexibility to take other high-level math courses in place of Algebra II.

Speech course also not required

Despite testimony from educators that a speech course should be required for graduation, the SBOE's preliminary vote on the rules leaves that decision up to school districts. This vote represents a change to current policy, as the SBOE has required a speech class for graduation since the late 1990s, even though the half-credit is not required by state law.

Final vote in January

The Foundation High School Program rules, as revised at the SBOE's November meeting, will be available to the public Dec. 9. TCTA will share them with members via our eUpdate newsletter and tcta.org when they are released.