By Sarah Sapeda
City News Service
The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday to change high school graduation requirements to include career readiness courses beginning with freshman entering high school during the 2012-2013 academic year.
Career technical education covers a variety of classes taken at district high schools which allow students to enter college with some credits already obtained, and courses students can take to work toward a vocational license or certification.
The new requirements will address San Diego's economic, workforce and family needs and give students more opportunities for career and college success, said Shawn Loescher, director of the district's Office of College, Career and Technical Education, who presented the proposal.
The classes will better prepare graduates for college and careers and give students more options after graduation, Loescher said.
"It is the opportunity for all students to score college and careers to draw relevance back to the core curriculum,'' Loescher said.
More than 40 courses have been approved for high school and college credit. Students can earn up to 158.5 credits toward licensure, certification or an advanced standing in college while attending high school.
Each district high school already offers two or more career paths and in the 2010-11 school year 97 percent of students were enrolled in one career readiness class and 68 percent took two or more, but the classes were not required for graduation.
Beginning with the Class of 2016, students will be required to take career readiness classes. Students beginning high school in the 2012-2013 academic year will have to take one one-year course and subsequent classes will be required to take two.
The board voted 4-1 to pass the measure with Kevin Beiser casting the sole opposing vote, stating the new requirements would reduce students' opportunities to take classes of their choosing.
"The conditional academic courses will be irrelevant to real world studies,'' Beiser said and urged the board to keep the current curriculum.
By 2020, an estimated 75 percent of jobs in California will require some post-secondary education and 38 percent will require certification or career preparation after high school, according to data from the Education Consortium of San Diego County.
"This really underscores our mission statement,'' board President Richard Barrera said of the new requirements. "The world is changing so rapidly, that we have to stay as current and disciplined as we can.''