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EDUCATION REPORT - Florida to Require High School Students to Declare a Major

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I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

Lawmakers in Florida have taken a step to add a college tradition to high schools in their state. The Florida Legislature has approved a requirement for high school students to declare a major interest of study.

High school students in Tallahassee, Florida
High school students in Tallahassee, Florida

The measure is included in an education bill that would also require students to take a fourth year of math. It calls for new programs for students who do not plan to go to college, and special classes for struggling students. And it calls for younger students to get instruction about planning for the kind of work they would like to do when they grow up.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush supported the legislation as part of an education reform plan. He says declaring a major area of interest will make high school more interesting to many students. And he says it will give them a chance to discover what their interests are.

The major could be a subject like biology, math or a foreign language. Or it could be a skill such as car or computer repair. Students would have to declare their interest in eighth grade and take four classes in that area during their four years in high school.

Supporters of the idea say the goal is to get students to think about what they want to do and help them prepare for their future. But some people say the program could make it difficult for students to explore different possibilities. And they say fourteen-year-old eighth-graders are too young to know what they want to do in life.

Studies have shown that at least half of all college students change their majors. Educators say this will probably happen in Florida high schools, too. But they say the students could use the classes as credit to meet graduation requirements, so they will not have lost time.

Florida education officials say the high school graduation rate in two thousand five was seventy-two percent. Supporters hope the new plan will lead more students to stay in school because they will be learning a job skill. And they say the majors should represent the needs of each community because the programs are to be created locally.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Read and listen to our reports at www.unsv.com. And if you are a teacher and use Special English in school, let us know how. We invite you to tell us what you teach and where you are. Write to special@voanews.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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