The Houston Independent School District Board is expected to vote on two new policies that could make it a whole lot easier for older high school students to get their diplomas. As Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, the changes would affect both the maximum age of students and the hours they have to attend school.
Along the Southwest Freeway inside an old pool hall, Liberty High School is one of three schools in HISD that cater to older students who require flexible hours. The school has an enrollment of around 240 students and many or them are in their early 20s. HISD’s board will vote on a new policy that would raise the maximum age of students from 21 to 26, which would open the door for many who would otherwise have to take the GED. Monico Rivas is the school’s principal.
“I do think that there’s quite a big number out there of young adults who will definitely benefit from being able to have the option to not necessarily go and just have their option of getting the GED but now they can still get a diploma and really go deep into the course work and be better prepared for college work.”
Lawmakers last session approved changes to the Texas Education Code that allows for older students to complete high school. They left it up to individual districts to adopt the changes. Houston State Representative Scott Hochberg sponsored the legislation and says allowing older students the opportunity to get their diplomas helps everyone.
“A lot of these young adults will go on to community colleges after finishing their education. A lot of them lack just one or two or three courses and there’s no way that they would be able to leave their employment to come in and finish those courses up. But it’s tremendously valuable not only them but to our region to get them to the point of having a high school diploma and give them the ability to go on beyond that.”
The school board will also vote on a policy that could lead to more flexible hours for some HISD students. Night school would be an option under a policy that was okayed by lawmakers earlier this year, but still needs the approval of the Texas Education Agency. This is HISD’s Terry Abbott.
“If the board votes to approve it then we will go to the Texas Education Agency and ask for their permission to establish these flexible hours all over the city. We think it will make a big difference for kids because we know that we have a lot of them who need to work and sometimes they choose work over coming to school and that’s one thing that leads to the drop-out rate.”
Students would have to be at least 17 years old to take advantage of the flexible hours if the board and the TEA approve the changes.