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BISD board hears about graduation changes

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

The Bandera ISD board heard reports on more changes in graduation requirements at their regular meeting held Monday, March 24.
Renee Cadena, head of curriculum and instruction, presented a comparison of the previous requirements to those proposed by the State Board of Education following the passage of HB 5 in the last round of the legislature.
"The foundation, the basics of what you have to have, has remained with few significant changes," she said.
Students will select a chosen course of study, called a "pathway," in their middle school years. In addition to the "foundation" courses, they will select a variety of "endorsements," formerly known as electives.
Cadena said changes are still coming down from the SBOE and Superintendent Regina Howell said, "Additional changes and modifications are also expected in the next legislative session (2015)."
Cadena also showed the board examples of possible endorsement pathways that will be offered at Bandera High School. The sequences are based on those most commonly followed by students in the past.
"Students will be able to make changes to their pathways," said Cadena. Everyone agreed that the changes present a learning curve for administrators, counselors, students and parents. "It can take about three years for students to feel comfortable with these [kinds of] changes," Cadena said.
Board President Dr. Barbara Skipper agreed, "It's so different from what we've had before. It's going to be a big challenge."
Howell said the stress levels have been rising because school staffers feel like they're running way behind schedule. "We have our first parent meeting on April 7, and that's usually done in February!" she said.
Educating administrators and staff is involving the entire district, Howell explained. Elementary counselors are participating in working with the middle school program to get students started in the new requirements.
The new program aims to get students thinking about their career and education goals as early as kindergarten.
"We also have a plan to work with transfer students who come in from other districts who may be doing it a little differently than we are," Howell said.
Cadena also told the board about two new curriculum items that have been mandated by the state.
In grades K-8, the TEKS math requires a personal financial literacy course. "It will be part of the elementary and middle school core curriculum," Cadena said. In high school, the course will be offered as an elective where it can act as a fourth credit in math.
HB 897 created a requirement for CPR instruction for grades 7-12. In 2014-15, Bandera High School will provide CPR instruction to all students in grades 9-12 through enrichment classes. At BMS, students will get the instruction in PE or athletic classes.
By 2015-16, the requirement can be met by having all seventh graders receive the training in their PE or athletics classes.