Proposed Oklahoma Bill Prioritizes Divergent Career Pathways

A bill working through the Oklahoma House and Senate would modify graduation requirements for high school students in the state if passed and signed by the Governor.

Friday, April 19th 2024, 10:53 pm

By: News 9, Matt McCabe


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A bill working through the Oklahoma House and Senate would modify graduation requirements for high school students in the state if passed and signed by the Governor.

Sen. Adam Pugh, (R-Edmond), and Rep. Rhonda Baker, (R-Yukon), have sponsored the bill, HB 3278, in each chamber. 

The most noticeable changes are pivoting away from some required classes, and adding more math.

Students would have six pathways credits, which could include, "world or non-English language, computer technology, Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC), internship or apprenticeship programs, career and technology education courses, concurrently enrolled courses, advanced placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses approved for college admission requirements, music, art, drama, speech, dance, media arts, or other approved courses."

Pugh and Baker said lawmakers consulted with stakeholders across the state, and have the support of several superintendents and school boards.

"We identified the need to change our graduation requirements to more align them with specific pathways that were going to prepare a student as they walk across the stage and got their high school diploma for whatever they're going to do the next day," Sen. Pugh said.

Currently, CORE Curriculum Requirements require at least 1 credit of foreign language or computer technology. 

College admissions consultant Ann-Clore Duncan worries the current requirements leave some shorthanded on college applications, and the proposed changes would deepen the divide.

"My concern is for students who are trying to get into college that there are so many colleges in the country that require 2 years, some three, some even four years of foreign language," Duncan said.

A previous student client of hers, Tyler Graham, said he experienced disappointment himself after graduating from Edmond Public Schools in 2021 and learning some of his dream colleges required classes he had not completed in high school.

"One school in particular, Purdue, my admission was blocked entirely because I hadn't done two years of a foreign language," Graham said. "And a lot of schools recognize computer science as a foreign language, but a lot of schools don't."

Likewise, Duncan said there are still many colleges that accept students without foreign language credit. Graham, for example, is now a senior at Oklahoma State University.

But, she said the number of colleges that do not is in the hundreds. "I'm just concerned about those who want to be college-ready and have as many options as possible," she said.

Pugh argues the bill does precisely that. "It doesn't eliminate fine arts from schools, it doesn't eliminate language classes from schools," he said. "It may actually provide more flexibility so a child can be on a path that's going to lead directly to what they're going to do next."

Baker and Pugh each stressed that the bill's language asks districts to encourage students to take two units of foreign language classes. Each student will also work on an Individual Career and Academic Plan with their respective counselor, who is expected to advise students on necessary classes for their preferred post-education outcome.

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