Elections

Poll: Ninth Grade ‘About Right’ Time To Choose Study Track

Parents were a little more hesitant about their children choosing study plans.

Ninth graders in high school in Texas now get to choose a course of study. The choices include career tracks like construction, theater or engineering.

But is ninth grade the right time for teenagers to make this kind of big decision?

“I would say so. I think it’s about the right time. I think it provides more choices and I think it’s a good time to be able to do it,” says Pierr Castillo.

Castillo is a board member of the Texas PTA. He doesn’t have children himself but he cares about education.

“I own a marketing agency and I have a vested interest in having children be successful because that means I’m going to get better workers,” said Castillo.

That’s one of the major goals of the state’s new education law. It’s also known as House Bill 5 and is making some of the biggest changes to Texas education in years.

Industry needs more trained workers for jobs in high demand. So, ninth graders can choose a course of study that leads to college or to the workforce.

Almost half of Texas voters agree that ninth grade is about the right time to choose.

Rice University professor and pollster Bob Stein has the results from the new Houston Public Media/KHOU Election Poll.

click here for more elction and poll stories

“Almost a majority, but not quite a majority 47 percent thought this requirement was about right, particularly the timing of the requirement, when a child enters high school in ninth grade,” says Stein.

Forty-two percent of Texas voters in the poll think ninth grade is too early. Five percent think it’s too late.

The breakdown is a little different for parents with children at home.

“They were a little bit more tepid about this. They broke about 50-50. Probably because those children may not be in secondary but primary grades and the challenge here may be simply, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready to make a decision for my child when they enter ninth grade,’” says Stein.

Jeffrey Foley has just gone through this decision with his daughter. She started high school in Alvin this year.

“I guess I would say it is about right if it’s done in the right way,” says Foley.

Foley thinks students who are at risk of dropping out need something to keep them interested in school.

“As long as the kids know this is not set in stone what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives but rather giving them direction to start moving through their high school experience and that they can alter it,” says Foley. 

Other voters are all for this change in education.

The poll found about 70 percent of African Americans and Hispanics think the timing is just about right — or even too late.

 

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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