Maryland State Board Approves Stricter Graduation Standards
The Maryland State Board of Education has given its approval to more challenging standards for high school graduation. These new standards include a requirement for students to take a third year of mathematics, as well as one year each of fine arts and practical arts. In addition, the board has also established a "certificate of merit" for students who choose to take an extra year of science and earn credit in a foreign language.
The board has also agreed to mandate that all students take a minimum number of courses each year of high school, with a specific requirement of four courses during their senior year. They have also specified that one of the mandatory social studies credits must be in U.S. history. Furthermore, the board has made it necessary for local school districts to offer an elective in community service.
These new measures will come into effect for 9th-grade students starting high school in the fall. However, formal approval from the state board is still needed, and this will be decided at their June meeting. Nevertheless, board members have expressed their willingness to move forward with these changes. David W. Hornbeck, the state superintendent of schools, stated that these new standards demonstrate the board’s commitment to raising expectations and setting higher standards.
Under the board’s plan, the total number of credits required for Maryland students will remain at 20. However, the number of mandatory courses will increase from 12 to 15. Students will still need to complete four years of English, three years of social studies, two years of science, and one year of physical education.
The inclusion of a practical arts credit, which had been previously rejected, surprised some onlookers. Board members stated that they were influenced by lobbying efforts from proponents of vocational education and industrial arts, who believed that students should have hands-on experience in the classroom. To earn this new credit, students can take courses in industrial arts, technology education, home economics, vocational education, business education, or computer studies. While a few of Maryland’s school districts already require an additional math or fine arts credit, practical arts is not currently a requirement.
Despite objections from Mr. Hornbeck, who believed that adding the practical arts requirement would not strengthen graduation requirements, the board voted in favor of it. Mr. Hornbeck does not believe that this extra credit will have a significant negative impact on schools, but he does anticipate that local districts will need to allocate more funding to hire teachers for the specified subjects.