New high school graduation requirements will become effective with the 1995-96 ninth grade class.

RISD students will need 24 credits to graduate from high school, as opposed to the 21 now required for a non-advanced diploma and 22 required for an advanced diploma.

“The state has decided that we need to move toward beefing up the curriculum,” says Caroline Swann, a counselor at Lake Highlands Junior High who is preparing eighth graders for the change.

“(Texas) test scores are low compared to the rest of the nation. The kids need to be better prepared for college and the world.”

The Texas Education Agency has mandated that all school districts in the state phase out advanced and advanced honors diplomas by 1999.

In the past, students chose one of three graduation tracks: regular, advanced or advanced with honors. Now students choose one of two tracks, both of which are high-quality programs, Swann says.

“Both plans are equally rigorous,” Swann says. “One plan is not better than the other. They try to provide something for everyone.”

Both plans are more oriented toward technological training than past graduation tracks, Swann says.

“Students have to learn to use a computer for any job,” Swann says. “Kids will be in a detrimental position if they don’t have those skills.”

Plan 1 is designed to prepare students for competitive colleges with an emphasis on math and science. This plan requires one year of computer science and three years of foreign language.

Plan 2 provides students flexibility in preparing themselves for college and their future careers. This plan emphasizes high-tech training and requires two years of foreign language or two years of computer science. Students who choose this plan take both a three-year career and technology component and a three-year specialization component, through which they can focus on their career goals.

Although honors diplomas will no longer be available, RISD will still offer the honors classes, Swann says. These classes will show up on a student’s transcript and be used to determine class rank.

RISD has prepared a guide to explain the new graduation requirements. For information, call 301-3333.