Education Policy

2015 IDRA Factsheet Quality Curriculum

2015 IDRA Factsheet
Quality Curriculum for All Students

No student or group of students should be tracked into low-level courses nor into different diploma routes or graduation plans.

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IDRA Stands

  • Schools should provide a high quality curriculum that prepares all students to enroll in and complete college, supplemented by optional courses that prepare them to enter the workforce after graduation.
  • The same high quality curriculum should be available to all students in all schools, including students placed in alternative education settings.
  • School districts should put all of their students on a graduation plan that matches the 4×4, including Algebra II requirements.

Texas Needs All Students to Have Excellent Education
The new graduation requirements in Texas do not ensure all students will be prepared for college. Instead, state policy allows schools to make pre-college decisions on behalf of students and to track many into low-level courses that limit career options.

Research on 21st century workforce needs indicates that the majority of jobs will require some level of education beyond high school. Employers in turn will need employees who are life-long learners prepared to adapt to the demands of a rapidly changing workplace.

High Expectations Have Better Results for Students
The Texas diploma is no longer standard across the state. Years of research and practice have demonstrated the failure of student tracking policies and weak curricula. Texas, however, has returned to the practice under the guise of helping unsuccessful students be able to earn a minimal diploma. For example, Algebra II is considered a gateway course for success in college, but it has been excluded from Texas’ graduation requirements. And other courses that were part of the 4×4 diploma plan that was in place until 2013 are no longer required.* This, despite the fact that 80 percent of students in Texas were already succeeding under the 4×4 plan.

We already know that access to courses will vary significantly from district to district. Quality of courses will vary dramatically from district to district. School districts are allowed to provide technical and vocational education in place of college-prep education for some students. At age 14, students must choose a career or interest path (with parent approval). Too often, parent approval is obtained by the school without a meaningful discussion of the consequences. Some students will find when they graduate, that they are not prepared for college.

Some schools in Texas have already demonstrated that they are more successful by embracing high expectations for all rather than sorting some students into college and others into job training. The state of Texas is responsible for ensuring that all students have equal access to a high quality education and are able to attend and graduate from college.

We must all insist that all Texas schools educate all students to be college-ready.