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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Keller high school's mistake forces students to change courses mid-semester

By Sandra Engelland | Star Telegram
Monday, Oct. 24, 2011

FORT WORTH -- Because of an error by the counseling department, close to 100 of the almost 600 seniors at Keller Central High School found out last week that they have to transfer into a physics class mid-semester to fulfill graduation requirements for the state's recommended high school program.

To help the students catch up, teachers will review the material they covered in the first eight weeks as they continue with the curriculum, district officials said.

"I've told our staff to understand kids being upset and to please be supportive and help keep them on track," Principal David Hinson said.

The class of 2012 is the first to have no exceptions to the state's "four-by-four" plan, the measure that added math and science credits to the courses needed to graduate.

"All of these students are still on track to graduate," Hinson said.

The mistake came in a counselor's misinterpretation of the transition to the four-by-four requirements, Hinson said. This is the first year that students must take physics to receive the recommended diploma required by Texas four-year universities. The state has also been phasing out allowing students to take integrated physics and chemistry for the recommended and distinguished diplomas.

Hinson said the error should have been caught in July when the counseling department reviewed schedules, but school officials discovered the problem just last week. Counselors met with all affected students individually and called parents during the meetings. All the seniors were in other science classes, most of them in environmental science.

Some who are not planning to go to a four-year university next fall opted to graduate on the state's minimum plan, he said.

For students who wanted to remain on the recommended plan, school officials changed an environmental science class into a physics course because the teacher had taught physics last year, he said. Students in that class who did not need physics transferred to other environmental science classes.

Students transferring into physics would not need to make up missed assignments and would start with whatever grade they had in their previous science class, Hinson said.

Affected students and parents could not be reached for comment.

This was not the first reported counseling mistake that has affected students in the Keller district this year.

Tais Navarro said her son, a senior, had to take an additional science class this year after learning that integrated physics and chemistry, which he took as a freshman, would not count on his graduation plan. He was already taking physics, but now is in biology as well.

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