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Legislature recognizes needed changes to high school graduation requirements

Monday, April 15, 2024

Preparing high school students for careers is the role of education, but business demand and student goals must align to create the vision of education for the future.

Oklahoma’s elected officials see this beautiful vision for Oklahoma schools.

There is a big shift in priorities from business and industry in what students need in America’s K-12 education system, and this is why Oklahoma lawmakers are considering legislation that would modify the state’s graduation requirements to include increased STEM and open career training. It’s part of the state’s plan to improve the way Oklahoma delivers and funds workforce development.

“More people consider career readiness a top priority in education,” said Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Brent Haken. “I think it’s important Oklahoma’s graduation requirements reflect this undeniable need for more skilled workers and more career training opportunities.”

Under House Bill 3278, graduation requirements for students in eighth through 12th grades would be changed to include a wide range of career paths selected by the local school board. A joint plan ensuring high academic expectations would be submitted to the legislature, under the proposed legislation. The plan would be a collaboration between the State Board of Career and Technology Education, the State Regents for Higher Education and the State Department of Education.

Right now, Oklahoma’s high school graduation requirements don’t do enough to promote career readiness, Haken said, and they need to be upgraded to complement the state’s mission to improve workforce development and lure new businesses to the state.

“As the educational landscape continues to evolve, we need to enhance graduation requirements by prioritizing career training alongside academic achievement,” he said. “By aligning our graduation requirements with the needs of the workforce, we are empowering our students to excel in their chosen careers and become valuable contributors to society.”

The goal, he added, is to create a more streamlined and responsive workforce system that empowers job seekers and employers. The hope is to improve the state’s low labor force participation rate, retain and grow existing businesses and increase Oklahoma’s high school graduation rate.

A more coordinated and unified workforce system is expected to help the state overcome these challenges and provide highly trained workers for high-tech industries and trades careers.

“The need for educational opportunities that emphasize career readiness is growing,” he said. “This measure would help bolster a new system for workforce development and narrow the skills gap for industries in need of skilled workers.”


Oklahoma CareerTech: Education that works for you

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 60 campuses, 397 PK-12 school districts, 16 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy providers.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.

Last Modified on Apr 15, 2024
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