A bill that would boost graduation requirements in English, math and science has morphed into a measure that would allow exceptions to state graduation tests for those students who get high marks on college entrance exams.
HB230 sponsors, Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, and Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork, had wanted to require students to take four years of math, four of science and four years of English in order to graduate.
Currently, the state requires three years of English and two each of math and science.
However, earlier this month the State Board of Education voted to consider raising the requirements to four years of English, and three each of math and science, in next month's meeting.
"If it looks like they are going to stay with the four, three, three — bravo, that's a big step forward," said Daw. "The bill has gone through quite an adventure . . . but this is a good step in the right direction and there is no need to be heavy-handed if our purposes are being accomplished."
Now, under HB230, if a student's composite score on the ACT or SAT ranks in the top 15 percentile of the national scores they may receive a basic high school diploma without passing the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test.
Kim Burningham, State Board of Education chairman, said moving to the four-three-three requirement would be a good middle ground and would enable the board to establish more rigor in schools on a reasonable course.
However, in a Women's State Legislative Council panel discussion Wednesday, some speakers were concerned that more course requirements would result in less time and resources for the arts and career and technical education courses.
"I know first-hand the ability of the arts to make profound life changes — about the personal power, creativity and problem-solving that comes from arts instruction," said Shirley Ririe, co-artistic director for the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. "If more is required it would be at the expense of these programs."