The Wake County school board may vote today on keeping tougher than state-mandated high school graduation requirements for the 2011-12 school year.
The board will vote on a recommendation from staff to continue requiring students to pass the Algebra I, Biology and English I state end-of-course exams to graduate from high school.
The board had taken a similar step in December following the staff recommendation to leave in place the requirement for the 2010-11 school year.
The quick history lesson here is the State Board of Education used to require high school students to pass five end-of-course exams to graduate. The exams were Algebra I, Biology, English I, US History and Civics and Economics.
But with the state moving toward a new accountability program, the state Board voted in October to drop the requirement that students pass all five exams to graduate. Instead, the state made the exams worth 25 percent of the student's final grade.
But the state Board left it up to individual districts whether to keep the old standards of passing the exams and Wake opted to do so.
Jump ahead to March, when a new state law was passed eliminating four end-of-course exams, including the U.S. History and Civics exams.
Now with only three of the original five required EOCs still being offered, staff wants the school board to continue requiring students to pass them in the 2011-12 school year.
At a school board work session last month, Chief Academic Officer Donna Hargens told the board that staff wants to continue holding students accountable for those exams.
"The students are preparing for them," Hargens said. "The teachers are held accountable for the results. So it should be a requirement for the students to take the test."
Hargens said requiring students to pass the exams will make them take it more seriously.
Ruth Steidinger, senior director of Wake's high school programs, said continuing to leave passing the exams a requirement would give them leverage with students. She said it will provide students an incentive to do well.
The EOCs are still counted for determining growth and performance composite in the ABCs program. The English I and Algebra I exams are used to measure high schools under No Child Left Behind. The EOCs are also used to assess teachers under the EVAAS program.
A majority of board members indicated last month that they'd back the staff recommendation. It's not listed on today's agenda but it may be amended to include the vote.