Senator Nonini is sponsoring a bill that would create two seperate diplomas for graduating high school students in lieu of the current single statewide diploma.
The new diploma would have a STEM emphasis and would require seniors to take more courses in math, science, engineering, and technology than the current state minimum of six science and six math credits.
In addition to the minimum statewide requirements, the STEM Diploma would require graduating seniors to have earned:
- 8 math credits
- 8 science credits
- 5 additional credits earned from math, science, engineering, and technology courses (science and math classes if used for this purpose must be in addition to the minimum of 8 mentioned above)
The new bill would not alter or change the existing standard high school diploma. Instead, it will be available for students who go beyond the minimum state requirements by fulfilling the additional STEM credits listed above.
According to the bill’s statement of purpose the intent of the new diploma is to honor students who have exceeded the state minimum and invested their studies in STEM coursework.
The new diploma could, theoretically, give those seniors a leg up in scholarships, college applications, and job openings.
While the bill itself doesn’t have a fiscal impact, districts certainly may change the way they allocate dollars in order to provide enough course offerings to satisfy the additional requirements for the new diploma. It may also encourage the trend of “block scheduling ” in high schools which typically allow students to take more courses than a standard daily schedule.
Of note, the bill includes an emergency clause. If passed, this would mean students graduating this spring could be offered such diplomas.
Of equal note, North Idaho STEM Academy, a public charter school, is in Sen. Nonini’s district