LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Getting a high school diploma in Kentucky might soon become a little more difficult.
The Kentucky Board of Education is scheduled to vote Wednesday on new minimum high school graduation requirements.
Kentucky Interim Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis said the change is needed to improve student performance across the state.
“This is a tough conversation,” Lewis said. “This is a really big shift that we’re talking about making with high school graduation, but we simply cannot continue to hand kids high school diplomas that are no more than certificates of attendance.”
Lewis said he’s excited for the board to consider changes to the minimum requirements for high school graduation, primarily a proposed demonstration of college or career readiness, which would kick in for students starting high school in fall 2019, and passing new math and reading exams, which would become a requirement for students entering 9th grade in 2020.
“We have to have a measure,” Lewis said. “We have to have a measure. With that said, I’m comfortable with proposing such a measure.”
Lewis said students would have several opportunities to appeal a failed test, that could prevent them from graduating.
The tests would be administered during a student’s sophomore year to allow for more chances to take it, if the child is unable to pass right away.
An action notice shared by Jefferson County Teacher’s Association Facebook page and sent to WAVE 3 via email states:
“Although the Board's motive for changing the requirements seems to be an attempt to raise standards and increase flexibility, this proposal will actually lead to more restrictive requirements for students, decreased graduation rates, and greater limitations in our most vulnerable students' access to post-secondary opportunities.”
The note also urges members to call the Kentucky Board of Education to ask it to pause the process and seek more public input.
“The concerns and comments that we’ve rushed this through, it’s not accurate,” Lewis said.
Lewis said it’s a discussion that started under former education commissioner Stephen Pruitt and will continue after this week.
“To be frank with you, I’ve been trying to get folks to talk with me about the change in high school graduation requirements and all they’ve wanted to talk about was charter schools,” Lewis said.
The interim commissioner added, if the policy is approved by the state board, a 30-day public comment period and public hearing would take place.
The Kentucky Local Superintendents Advisory Council stated in a letter to the Department of Education that it did not show support for the graduation requirement proposal.