The Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a new high school curriculum that drops algebra II as a graduation requirement for most students.
The academic overhaul grew out of a law passed overwhelmingly by the state Legislature last year. It also cut the number of standardized tests high schoolers must pass from 15 to five.
The board's 14 to 1 vote formally beings implementation of the new curriculum, which takes effect in September.
It is designed to create greater course flexibility for students who want to focus on career training.
Some policy experts claim Texas is watering down its graduation standards and say fewer students will take algebra II if not required to.
But industry leaders say the law will better-prepare high school graduates for the modern workforce.
KUT, the public radio station in Austin, has more details.
In May, the Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 5, a sweeping overhaul of the state's high school curriculum, in part to allow more opportunities for career training for students who do not intend to attend college. The changes in the new law included dropping an existing requirement that all students take algebra II to graduate in favor of allowing their selection of diploma "endorsements" in a specialized areas like science and technology, business or humanities to determine which math courses they take.
Widely debated as they passed through the Legislature, the new graduation requirements continued to be a hot topic as the State Board of Education set about deciding which courses students take to fulfill those endorsements.
Leading up to the final vote, board members discussed whether the state Legislature had avoided the task of finalizing the details of new graduation requirements and passed on the responsibility to the board.
“HB 5 was not a perfect piece of legislation," said board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont. "Some would say and observed ... that rather than make some of the tough, controversial decisions, the Legislature ... just passed it down to us. [That was] probably a good political decision on their part."