In the last Texas legislative session (81st) HB3 removed the technology credit from the Recommended High School Program (RHSP). In September, the State Board of Education (SBOE) met to discuss changing the Minimum High School Program (MHSP) and the Distinguished Achievement Program (DAP) to match the RHSP. At the end of the meeting in September, the State Board of Education directed TEA to align the MHSP and DAP with the RHSP. TEA is currently drafting language to this effect that the SBOE will consider at their November 20th meeting.
At the TECSIG (Technology Coordinators Special Interest Group) meeting in Austin last week, TCEA hosted two round-table discussions on this topic. Approximately thirty technology directors participated in these discussions. In the beginning of both meetings it was apparent our initial reaction to the news that a technology credit was no longer required for graduation was perceived by us in one of two ways; legislators either thought high school students entered high school with all the technology skills they needed or worse, technology skills were not important. Our belief system was being questioned.
As we started to dialogue, however, we began to see that the issue was not so cut and dry. We discussed that because of funding, most high school students took BCIS. The vast majority of the participants in our meeting felt this course provided skills that these students should have mastered before they entered high school, and that BCIS was not rigorous enough to meet the demands of the job market. Several questions arose from our discussion. If the result of the requirement for a technology credit for graduation was that most students took a course we didn’t think adequately prepared them, then why would we advocate to reinstate the credit requirement? But, if we don’t have the requirement, what will happen to these teachers who have worked so hard to gain the certification to teach these courses? Are the technology applications courses still relevant or do we need to offer different courses that are more aligned with today’s job market? If technology courses are optional at the high school level, how can high school counselors adequately advise students if the counselors don’t know the student’s technology proficiency level? What type of emphasis will technology courses receive at school districts that are small and don’t have adequate resources?
As you can see, we had a very lively discussion but we realized we needed to include others in the conversation. So here we are. What is your opinion? Don’t be shy. Let’s challenge each other. Let’s make sure that we think this problem through and we come up with a solution that is best for the students of Texas.