Pasco school district softens proposal on required college-level courses

Superintendent Kurt Browning had said he wanted to require all students to take the classes or get an industry certification.
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning told the Florida Board of Education on May 22, 2019, of his plans to change the student progression plan so high school students would have to take a college-level course or earn an industry certification before graduation. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning told the Florida Board of Education on May 22, 2019, of his plans to change the student progression plan so high school students would have to take a college-level course or earn an industry certification before graduation. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published June 13

Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning made a bold pledge to the outcomes-driven Florida Board of Education in May.

His district would change its student progression plan to require future high school students complete a college-credit bearing course or an industry certification before graduation. “Kids can do it,” Browning told the board.

The proposal his staff is bringing to the Pasco School Board doesn’t match Browning’s speech to the state, though.

Instead, it soft-peddles the concept by suggesting that the district will make “every attempt” to give students access to such courses — essentially codifying what the district has already been doing.

That’s just fine with School Board vice chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin, who sits on the district’s student progression plan committee.

The committee discussed the superintendent’s idea during several meetings, but had some reservations about establishing a mandate. It had recommended a trial run at a small number of schools, but that concept didn’t fly.

“We’re encouraging it. I think we should do that,” Beaudoin said of the push for more higher-level courses with after-graduation significance. “I didn’t want to say ‘required.’ We need to see how this works.”

Other board members had raised questions about imposing a more stringent rule, as well. One issue centered on what students would do if the industry certification course they wanted to take was not offered at their school, and they had no interest in the ones available.

Browning said the administration still was exploring different options to make part of his initiative come to fruition more naturally. One possibility he mentioned several times was replacing the junior level required English course an advanced Cambridge option called “General Paper.”

But as for the larger move, he said he deferred to staff members who did not favor the requirement. That didn’t mean he was giving up in the longer term, though.

“I still think it’s important that we provide those opportunities for kids to have those experiences,” Browning said. “I think we’re eventually going to get there.”

The district has not taken that step yet.

Board members are scheduled to discuss the full set of proposed revisions to the student progression plan during a workshop Tuesday.

Note: This post has been updated to include quotes from superintendent Kurt Browning.

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