Pasco superintendent pushes plan to require college-level courses or industry certification

The proposal requires School Board approval.
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning addresses the Florida Board of Education on May 22, 2019, at its meeting at Mort Elementary School in Tampa. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning addresses the Florida Board of Education on May 22, 2019, at its meeting at Mort Elementary School in Tampa. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published May 24

All students entering Pasco County high schools in the fall and beyond could face a new course requirement, if superintendent Kurt Browning has his way.

“I am having our student progression plan changed” to have all students entering in fall 2019 and afterward take at least one college-credit bearing course, or earn at least one industry certification, before graduation, Browning told the Florida Board of Education during remarks at the board’s meeting Wednesday in Tampa.

The proposal comes as the district also increases student participation in Advanced Placement courses.

“Kids can do it,” Browning told the State Board. “They will meet the standard. They will perform.”

Though he sounded as if the idea is a certainty, Browning later acknowledged that his recommendation still has many details to be ironed out — not the least of which is School Board approval.

School Board vice chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin, who sits on the district’s student progression plan committee, said the group had discussed the subject at some length, but still had many questions about rolling out such a major requirement so quickly. Some committee members suggested beginning with a trial run at select schools, Beaudoin said, but that thought didn’t progress too far.

She has raised some of her concerns at recent board meetings.

Board chairwoman Alison Crumbley reiterated her view that, if the district moves in the direction Browning has proposed, students will not be forced into programs that don’t interest them because of limited availability. If industry certifications are meant to help teens toward a profession of their preference, Crumbley said, it would serve no purpose to make them complete one in a field simply because it was offered at their school, while the one they really wanted was not.

Browning acknowledged that issues remain, and said he and his staff are still crafting a recommendation that answers these and other questions. One idea they are looking at, he said, is to have all juniors take a course called Cambridge “General Paper” as an English course, which would meet the part of the proposal to take at least one class that leads to college credit.

The School Board usually considers progression plan updates in the summer.

Related: All high school students should earn college credits or industry certification, Pasco superintendent says

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