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Raising the Bar

March 30th, 2009 by flanews

Getting a high school diploma could soon get harder in Florida. Lawmakers are reviewing legislation to raise the graduation standards. As Whitney Ray tells us educators say schools cant afford to enforce the stricter standards without more money.

Many Florida teens are getting their high school diplomas but not an adequate education. Nicholas Sirven is a junior college freshman. Hes taking remedial math and English.

The classes Im taking now are the same as taking high school, basically taking high school all over again, said Nicholas.

One out of every two junior college students in Florida takes remedial courses, at a cost of 70 million dollars to the state. Representative Eric Fresen is sponsoring legislation to cut down on the expense by raising graduation standards.

We are also turning it into a fiscal responsibility issue to where what we are suppose to be delivering at the high school level we truly deliver, said Fresen.

The bill would require high school students to take tougher math and science classes. It would also require students to make a higher score on the 10th grade FCAT. Florida School Boards Associations President Wayne Blanton said districts cant afford to implement the new standards.

Increased math and science requirements, while I understand why they are there and why theyre asking for them, it would be very difficult to do that at the time that we have this reduced budget and we are in the process of laying teachers off, said Blanton.

While educators say the legislation asks them to do more with a declining budget, the bills sponsor says raising the bar for graduation wouldnt cost the state any extra money. If the bill passes the stricter standards would go in to effect for 9th graders entering high school in 2010-2011.

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