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[Florida Graduation Pathways] When Educational Equity Leads to Success

[Florida Graduation Pathways] When Educational Equity Leads to Success

In this day and age of personalized learning, many states are no longer subscribing to the idea that a one-size-fits-all path to graduation will work for their high school students. Consider transfer students recently displaced from their homes who may have gaps in learning, students in and out of school because they need to work to support their family, or even high achievers who are seeking a more academically challenging high school experience. As you think about these situations, as well as probably a dozen others, a name or face may come to mind who you’ve identified as needing additional graduation options.

Whether a student is transferring in from out of state, following a nontraditional academic path, or seeking one that’s academically rigorous, the state of Florida seeks to provide equitable access to the right learning environment for every high school student. Not every student’s academic journey will look quite the same, but in Florida high schools, providing multiple pathways to a diploma can create more equitable learning environments so that every learner can succeed as he or she pursues personal goals.

Earning a Diploma

Florida is one of at least seven states that allows students to choose from two or more curricular pathways as they work to earn their high school diploma—with varying credit requirements within each pathway.

Florida students entering the 9th grade may choose from four options to earn a standard diploma: a 24-credit program, which includes accommodations for special education students; an 18-credit, Academically Challenging Curriculum to Enhance Learning (ACCEL) option; an International Baccalaureate® (IB®) curriculum; and an Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) curriculum.

All of these graduation paths include opportunities to take rigorous academic courses designed to prepare students for their future academic and career choices. At a minimum, regardless of students’ chosen graduation diploma tracks, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Achieve a passing score on the statewide, standardized Grade 10 Florida Standards Assessment in ELA OR earn a concordant score on the ACT® or SAT® test
  • Achieve a passing Algebra I End-of-Course (EOC) assessment score OR earn a comparable Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (P.E.R.T.), PSAT®, SAT®, or ACT® mathematics score

Diploma Designations

Students may also earn one or more designations on their standard high school diploma: the scholar designation and the merit designation. The scholar designation is meant to denote that the student has taken college-preparatory classes. To receive it, in addition to meeting the 24-credit standard high school diploma requirements, a student must satisfy specific course and testing requirements, which include a more rigorous course load, passing specified EOC exams, and at least one AP®, IB, AICE or dual-enrollment course.

To earn the merit diploma designation, students must earn one or more industry certifications from a list approved by the state. Earning this designation often requires students to pass multiple CTE classes, which help students explore different career pathways, creating a more engaging course experience for those that may not be on the AP track. As of July 1, 2018, students may now use credits earned upon completion of an approved apprenticeship or preapprenticeship program to satisfy specified high school graduation requirements. This new law is designed to not only help students satisfy specified graduation requirements but also help boost students’ career and technical education exploration and allow students to earn credit at jobs outside of school as part of Florida’s mission to provide accessible pathways to postsecondary success.

Postsecondary Options

The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) graduation requirements also outline public postsecondary options for high school students, including recommendations on pathways to complete diplomas for students who wish to apply to one of Florida’s public universities, earn an associate degree before entering the workforce, or look for industry-specific training and education for a wide variety of occupations.

These academic advisories are intended not only to provide all Florida high school students with an overview of the steps they need to take to receive their high school diploma but also to provide equitable access for all students to pursue their own goals and interests after graduation. 

Partnering with Edmentum

The Florida diploma pathways help provide every Florida high school student with the opportunity to pursue the unique path to graduation that will lead to success. By providing increased variation and choice to students, the FLDOE is making real strides toward providing equitable education experiences for all whom it serves. This can also present challenges for schools and districts, as educators look to acquire the proper resources to provide options that meet each student’s unique pathways and postsecondary aspirations.

If you’re looking for a digital partner to help offer high-quality digital curricula or even entirely virtual learning opportunities with state-certified teachers, consider a partnership with Edmentum. We can help Florida high school students fulfill the necessary credit requirements to follow the diploma path that is right for them, and we offer hundreds of quality courses to choose from, including CTE options, Advanced Placement® course preparation, and even exam prep for FSA ELA 10, EOC Algebra I, and the ACT and SAT exams.

Interested in forming a partnership? Learn more about our digital curriculum and virtual learning options—including all of the available courses we offer in the state of Florida!