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Educators Consider Putting Students on College-prep Track

Educators Consider Putting Students on College-prep Track

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Putting high school students on the college-prep track unless their parents say otherwise is among ideas being tossed around among educators seeking to make school more rigorous.

The discussions by representatives of the state Office of Education and the governor and with a handful of school district superintendents are just starting.

But the concept go before the state Board of Education in May, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Patti Harrington said.

Harrington said the college-prep-track plan still gives students ample opportunities for electives while furthering the board's Performance Plus efforts to improve high-school level teaching.

The state board's Performance Plus plan would give students credit based on what they can show they know instead of just on what classes they take.

But the plan has been held back by a lack of funds. Legislators declined a $16 million request for an elementary math program and $6 million for remedial help for students failing the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test, required for standard high school diploma.

Having high school freshmen decide on whether to take the college-prep path could address Performance Plus goals without a big cost.

"This would add a dimension to Performance Plus ... to the notion of, can the high school experience be more rigorous with some upfront planning and commitment on the part of the student and the parent, which I think is a good idea," Jordan Superintendent Barry Newbold said.

Preliminarily concepts would have parents and students meet with school officials about the child's future.

The state would create a set of college-preparatory courses as a sort of default curriculum, which could include four years of language arts, three or four years each of math and science and 31/2 years of social studies.

All students would go on that college-prep track, unless parents sign a contract opting for something less rigorous, Harrington said. Students still would have an array of electives to choose from, though more of the school day for some could be devoted to core classes.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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