(GNI)
Tammy Speed is the mother of two children currently enrolled in Graham Junior High School; one in sixth grade and one in eighth grade.

Her eighth grader is part of the first group of students required by HB 5, the new bill signed by Governor Rick Perry last June, to adopt a significantly different approach when it comes to navigating the path to high school graduation. Speed is on board with the new requirements.

“I think it's a good thing,” she said from her car Wednesday afternoon as she waited for her kids to exit Graham Junior High School. “If this sets a clearer goal for the kids, then I think it's a good idea.”

Basically, HB 5 provides what are called endorsements for students to choose from. As part of HB 5, there are now five endorsement paths for incoming ninth graders: STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities and Multidisciplinary Studies.

Depending on who's asked, the new bill's guidelines range from premature to a step in the right direction. Speed said that her daughter is currently interested in becoming an abuse counselor.

“So she's taking advanced classes next year at GHS,” she said. “I believe her endorsement is STEM.”

Students already in high school during the 2013-2014 school year are not required to follow the guidelines of HB 5, but may switch to the new plan if they wish. Since HB 5 was officially approved by the State Board of Education in January of this year, Graham schools have undergone an information campaign to better inform parents and students what to expect and how to maintain compliance with the new regulations.

For example, GHS counselors have been visiting GJHS and talking with students about the changes brought about by the bill, various aspects of the five endorsements offered and core classes required. GHS counselors also spent two days this year meeting with individual classes at the junior high to administer further explanation, and GJHS has so far hosted three meetings geared toward educating parents, with another meeting scheduled for May 15.

Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.