- A bill proposed in the Florida Senate could mean a reduction in the number of courses required to graduate high school for students who are on a career and technical education (CTE) pathway beginning in the 2019-20 academic year, Fox 13 reports.
- The proposed alternative pathway would require only 18 credits to graduate instead of the 24 required for the state's standard high school diploma, to include three English Language Arts credits; three math credits including Algebra I and Geometry; three science credits including Biology I; three and a half social studies credits; 2 and a half credits in work-based learning programs; and three credits in career and technical education, which must result in completion of a program or the earning of an industry certification.
- If the bill is passed, students who choose the CTE pathway would need to earn a 2.0 GPA and would still need to pass the end-of-year standardized test for each subject, the article states.
The creation of a separate diploma for career and technical education is not new, though the requirements proposed by the Florida bill seem more lenient than most. Many states have created alternative diplomas better suited to students unlikely to pursue traditional postsecondary education.
The idea makes sense when current trends are factored in. As college costs continue to escalate, far outpacing normal inflation, more students are balking at the idea of accruing a huge college debt, especially when they aren't assured of a career that pays enough to cover it. At the same time, there are a growing number of good jobs that don’t require a college degree at all.
The need for more training in trades is also apparent. According to The Denver Post, “With current trends, the National Association of Manufacturers says there will be 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025. Construction spending in 2017 topped $1 trillion, yet finding skilled workers to finish projects remains a major problem across the country. In Florida, diesel mechanics can make over $100,000 a year, yet they’re in short supply.”
The Washington Post also notes the growing need for truck drivers, who can command salaries of roughly $80,000 a year. Though in many cases, CTE programs will also need to account for the disruption coming to these fields via automation and artificial intelligence. An estimated 40% of jobs could be impacted in the next 15 years, in fields ranging from manufacturing to agriculture to supply chain transport.
Additionally, from an educational standpoint, there are the concerns that alternative diplomas do skew graduation rates and, to some degree, devalue what a diploma meant in the past. As state lawmakers and education leaders make decisions regarding these alternative pathways, they must ensure employers who hire high school graduates are assured that they have the basic skills, technical or otherwise, to serve in the workforce. But for school leaders, these alternative pathways offer more options for students and an increased likelihood of keeping them in school until graduation day arrives.