The Two Sides of iGraduate

Cameron Burleson and Katie Carter

For iGraduate
Cameron Burleson

It has been no secret that the State of Texas’ education system has been under construction for the past few years. With the introduction of new standardized tests and a multitude of new courses, it is clear that Texas is doing everything it can to provide the best education experience for its students. Due to the success of the previous implementations, the State of Texas has decided to take a much larger step in improving the education system of our state. Within the next few years, Texas will be introducing a program called iGraduate. This program will give the incoming freshman a hybrid schedule tailored to their desired graduation paths, and will better prepare students for their respected majors in college.

iGraduate will be a product of the legislative bill named “House Bill 5,” which is currently being finalized by the Texas House members in Austin, Texas.

“The bill has been in the making for about a year… [legislators] wanted to make [curriculum] more career driven,” the lead Keller High School Counselor Summer Martin said.

In the efforts to make Texas education more career driven, iGraduate will also give direction to students who, before, would become overwhelmed with the endless amount of electives that have been offered.

“High school has been more of a general liberal arts study and kids could aimlessly take electives, but [iGraduate] brings more of a concentration,” a KISD counselor said.

In addition to the increased exposure to different classes and fields of study, iGraduate also allows students to take an early step in obtaining their career goals.

“What’s cool about [iGraduate] is that you can get certifications, so when you go off to college if you have a certification in a certain area, you may find a job that can help you pay for college,” Mrs. Martin said.

Though these are positive attributes to this program, many parents have expressed possible concerns dealing with their child’s credits transferring to a university after graduation.

“I am not sure how this system will work, and how it will affect my child getting into college,” a KISD parent Janett Colen said.

Parents like Mrs. Colen have raised many questions dealing with the effects this program could have on a child’s application process to college, but Mrs. Martin explained that it will only have positive impacts on the students’ college admission process.

“With the introduction of these certifications, colleges are going to start looking at them to help with entrance into their university.” Mrs. Martin said.

The iGraduate portion of “House Bill 5” is very unique in its approach to the innovation process of Texas education, but it also posses attributes from other successful education systems across the country.

“There are other states that do this, like Florida, who lead students down career and technical pathways. They’re all different, but a lot of states are trying to go to more of a career base,” Mrs. Martin said.

Another concern that parents and teachers alike had with the program is the students’ ability to take the correct classes.

“My son is in 8th grade, and he would take eight classes dealing with football if he could, so I hope the school, or the parents will have a say in what classes the students are taking,” Janett Colen said.

In response to the concern that the parents have expressed about the students’ class schedules, Mrs. Martin explained the endorsement process that will occur to make sure parents and students are on the same page.

“We will sit down with each student and draw out a plan for their next four years. They will pick an endorsement plan, and that is how their classes will be scheduled,” Mrs. Martin said.

When talking with the counselors and parents of the KISD community, many questions were raised from this new program, but for the most part all of the questions could easily be answered. With one-on-one meetings that students will have with their counselors, in addition to the endorsement plan that will tailor each student’s schedule to their respected fields, this program is bound for success. In almost every state a program similar to this has been introduced, and has found great success for its students. There is no doubt that the Texas education system has been in need of positive remodeling, and this bill can do just that.

 

VS

Against iGraduate
Katie Carter

With the current school year almost halfway over, changes are being decided on for the upcoming year. New students, new schedule and new graduation plans. Current KHS students have three graduation plans: Distinguished, recommended, and minimum. The upcoming freshman will have different options.

Students will choose a track based on what their interests are, similar to choosing a college major. Students will be required to take the same amount of classes, however, there will be more flexibility with which classes will fill the requirements.

The endorsement plans include STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities, Fine Arts and Multi-disciplinary. Students will choose one and take the classes needed to fulfill the requirements.

This change is designed to help students become more prepared for college and their future career. The purpose will most likely serve well for those who already know what they want to do. But what about those who do not?

Approximately 70% of college students change their majors while in school, so why should 9th graders be forced to make the same decision and  be expected to handle it better than those several years their senior? The new plans offer multi-disciplinary, which is intended for those undecided. But the success of this pathway remains disputable. Most will opt to choose a pathway that they believe is right, rather than try out several options with the multi-disciplinary.

Plus, students have very little exposure to all of their career paths. Classes offered poorly represent the vast range of careers and ill prepare students to make the decision during their 8th grade year. Part of the programs purpose is to better prepare students for college, but nothing is preparing them for the new high school program.

While the plan is designed with the best intentions it has several holes that can create difficulties. It will benefit those who have ideas as to what they want to do, but will do nothing for those hoping to learn more about their future. At least with the current graduation plans students have mandatory classes to take so they are not completely lost as to what they should take. Perhaps if the plan went into action for juniors and seniors with the freshmen and sophomores taking their basics it would be more beneficial.