NRHS ups math, science requirements
On Dec. 13, 2013, Wisconsin Act 63 took effect, which required high school students in Wisconsin to take three credits of math and science rather than the two credits that were previously required. The New Richmond School District Board of Education approved the requirement change in the high school handbook at its July School Board meeting.
“DPI changed the minimum credits to graduate in math and science from two credits each to three credits beginning with the class of 2017,” said NRHS principal Tom Wissink. “They are doing it because they are seeing a greater need for skills in math and science, and I would say we are seeing that here when we are looking at colleges and job requirements.”
The old law stated that students graduating in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 school years must earn at least two credits of math and two credits of science. However, with the growing job market in the technology and healthcare fields, Wissink agrees that the change is needed to make sure students are prepared for the future.
“The jobs are getting more technical and demanding more math and science, and there are some great jobs out there for those who are prepared,” Wissink said. “We are seeing it mostly in the healthcare and computer technology fields. Even in manufacturing, there are jobs out there, but they are more technical. And those are the growth areas where there are jobs available. Our students just have to be more prepared so they can compete for those and pursue those opportunities.”
Even though the change in required credits at the state level is less than a year old, Wissink said that most of the students at the high school are already taking a third credit of math, and many students take extra science courses as well.
“Most of our kids are already taking a third year of math, so this is not a huge shift for us,” Wissink said. “This change hasn’t really changed our expectation of the students at all. While this state requirement is a good thing, it isn’t going to be a big impact for us or our students because we are already doing it.”
On the math side, Wissink said that students should get through at least geometry under the new math requirements, while classes will vary for reaching the requirements of a third year of science.
“The typical progression for our students in science would be getting through biology and chemistry, but we have a lot of kids who exceed that,” Wissink said. “This just allows students to try a crosswalk with other courses like agriscience or Project Lead the Way. It allows students to try other classes that they wouldn’t normally and still get a science or math credit for it.”
According to Wissink, the high school will be hiring more teachers in math and science in the next few years, but it will not be due to the changes in credits required to graduate.
“Just based on this change at the state level, we will not have to add staff to cover more students taking more classes,” Wissink said. “What is driving our need for more teachers is our increasing enrollments.”
Overall, Wissink said he feels the high school is more than ready to make sure that each student in the 2017 graduating class and beyond is ready to venture out into the world, whether it be to a fouryear college, a technical school or the workforce.
“We just want to make sure they are continuing those skills anyway, whether it is to help them pursue their education after high school or their jobs and careers,” Wissink said. “We want to prepare them to be the best qualified in whatever they do.The students just need to be aware of it and make sure they are taking the courses they need to graduate. Most of our students are already meeting the new requirement, so it really isn’t anything new.”