Legislators Take Another Step Toward Tougher School Requirements

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A plan to adopt tougher high school graduation requirements in Michigan cleared a state House committee largely intact Wednesday.

The House Education Committee approved legislation that for the most part follows recommendations made by the State Board of Education. The legislation now goes to the full House.

Students would be required to complete four credits each in math and English, three each in science and social science and one each in physical education and the arts. Students also would have to complete an online learning component.

Students would be able to switch out of the required curriculum and into a more personalized alternative program before their junior years, or earlier in some cases.

The requirements could start with the graduating class of 2010.

After weeks of consideration, the committee decided to retain a requirement that students take Algebra II as part of the mandatory curriculum. But the committee eliminated a proposed requirement that students take a foreign language.

"This is a much stronger piece of legislation, with all the input we've had over the past few weeks," said Rep. Brian Palmer, a Republican from Romeo and the committee chairman.

The Michigan Department of Education was waiting to review several amendments passed Wednesday before taking an official stance on the bill. But the department's chief academic officer, Jeremy Hughes, said he was pleased the Legislature had accepted the majority of the state board's recommendations.