CHICAGO — To earn a high school diploma, Chicago high school students would have to take chemistry and physics in addition to biology, under a new proposal unveiled Tuesday by Chicago Public Schools officials.
Current students have to earn three science credits to meet the requirements for graduation, but only one must be from a biology class. The other two credits can now be earned by taking a combination of chemistry, earth and space science, environmental science and physics.
If the tougher requirements are approved as expected Wednesday by the Board of Education, students entering high school in the 2018-19 academic year would still have to earn at least three science credits — but they would have to be in biology, chemistry and physics classes.
The new requirements are designed to ensure all students have "access to a rigorous science education" and "better prepare students for careers in science fields," officials said.
In addition, high school students will have to take a financial literacy class that prepares them "with the knowledge and skills to make empowered financial decisions."
The requirement will apply to students who enter high school in the fall, officials said. Schools will develop their own curriculum, and the class will be offered pass or fail, officials said.
In addition, the board is poised to adopt a new requirement that would prevent high school students from graduating unless they can prove they have plan in place for college, a trade school or a job.
Current freshmen — who are set graduate in 2020 — would be the first to be required to provide a plan. All students who graduate from CPS high schools are automatically granted admission to the City Colleges of Chicago.
Emanuel has said the current kindergarten through 12th grade model for education has not been relevant for nearly 20 years.
"We are moving to a pre-kindergarten through college model," Emanuel said.
However, Emanuel's plan was blasted by some who said it was irresponsible for the cash-strapped district to impose new requirements on schools and teachers when it is not providing adequate resources to meet students' minimum needs.
The proposal to toughen high school graduation requirements come a month after the Board of Education adopted a new requirement that will require all eighth-grade students to apply to high school rather than just enrolling at their neighborhood high school.