In every one of our high schools, there is a potential doctor. There is an aspiring geneticist, a food scientist, and a biochemical engineer. We can’t let them miss out on these opportunities because they didn’t have access to the science courses that would have spark those interests.

Enter our revised expectations around science – one of three new graduation requirements approved by the Board of Education today. The others pinpoint the need for robust financial education in every school, and a concrete post-secondary plan for every CPS student.

Science

Beginning in the 2018-2019 School Year, all CPS students will be required to take Biology, Chemistry and Physics before they finish high school. This robust new science requirement will align CPS to the Next Generation Science Standards, and will make sure that students interested in STEM have the foundation they need to pursue those 21st-Century careers.

Financial Education 

Today’s youth are at risk of accumulating excessive debt, and of making financial decisions they don’t fully understand. Our financial education requirement will give all students equitable access to a strong financial literacy curriculum. By educating them on credit, investment, money management, and other competencies, we can help students avoid the money mishaps that are so common among youth, especially as they leave home for the first time.

Learn, Plan, Succeed

The final graduation requirement approved by the Board was Learn, Plan, Succeed – our effort to help all students create a solid post-secondary plan. This will help students see graduation as a transition rather than a finish line, and think long and hard about what comes next. Students will fulfill this graduation requirement by presenting their school with a college acceptance letter, a military enlistment, acceptance into a jobs, apprenticeship, or gap year program, or a current job offer.

A Strategy for Life After Graduation

It’s our job to prepare all CPS students for life after high school. To give them the skills, direction, and practical knowledge they’ll need to make smart decisions for their futures. I thank the businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community partners who are helping us make this happen, and the CPS educators who are the force behind this plan.

These changes to our graduation requirements are the next logical steps in a post-secondary infrastructure that has been years in the making. Whether its college, career, or some combination of the two, they are a crucial part of our strategy for preparing students for whatever opportunity lies behind each new door.

By LaTanya McDade, CPS Chief of Teaching and Learning