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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106

Recommended High School Curriculum Weighed By State Education Board

BOSTON - State K-12 and higher education officials are working together to develop a recommended high school core program of studies to help ensure that public high school students graduate college and career ready.

The Board of Education first reviewed the so-called "MassCore" at their March Board meeting at the Dorchester's Murphy Elementary School on Tuesday.

The recommended high school core program of studies comes in response to growing concerns by the state's colleges and UMass system that too many students require remedial help to catch up during their first year on campus.

"There are unfortunately still many students passing MCAS who are not striving for proficiency or taking rigorous courses in high school, leaving them unprepared when they get to college," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "It's clear that they're just not getting the coursework they need to be truly college and career ready, and that has to change."

Board of Higher Education Chancellor Patricia Plummer agreed.

"This recommended curriculum will go a long way towards ensuring that more students will have the necessary skills and content required to succeed in college," she said. "Recent high school graduates should come to us ready to learn, not in need of remedial help."

The Board will reconsider the recommended curriculum later this year, following several months of public comment. Once approved, districts will be encouraged to adopt MassCore, but Driscoll said he does not want its use to become a mandate. Instead, he said he hopes high schools and districts will review the recommendations and either adopt them or enhance them to meet the needs of their students.

"Mandating this would be the easy way," he said. "These recommendations should be seen as a goal, but I would encourage locals to be creative with their curricula, so long as their students still graduate college and career ready."

Students who complete MassCore will get one step closer to earning the Certificate of Mastery, under the regulations the Board adopted last year. To complete the requirements for the Certificate students will also have to score at least 240 on the English and Math MCAS exams, take and pass the Algebra II assessment, and submit a writing sample.

The recommended program of studies includes: four credits of English, four credits of math, three credits of lab-based science, three credits of history and social science and two credits of the same foreign language. MassCore also includes additional learning opportunities including AP classes, dual enrollment, a senior project, online courses for high school or college credit, and service or work-based learning.

The recommended curriculum was developed by an advisory committee, which included educators from K-12 and public and private higher education, high school students and high school guidance counselors.

A survey was also sent to all high schools to determine the percentage of students in the Class of 2006 who had completed the recommended program of studies. Of the 79 schools (24 percent) that responded, about 70 percent of all students had completed this recommended curriculum

Of that total:

  • 46 percent of the 15 urban schools that responded had completed this recommended curriculum
  • 13 percent of 8 vocational schools that responded had completed this recommended curriculum
  • Nearly 100 percent of the 4 charter schools that responded had completed this recommended curriculum.

To support the implementation of MassCore the DOE will work with high school and higher education teachers to develop college-level model course syllabi aligned with the state's curriculum frameworks. The DOE, Board of Higher Education and the University of Massachusetts will also hold meetings over the next several months to better define the true meaning of "college and career ready."

Last Updated: March 27, 2007
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