ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Education would be able to wait a year before having to follow a law requiring that students pick a career path by ninth grade under a bill House lawmakers gave preliminary approval to on Thursday.
Members of the House Education Committee voted unanimously to send the bill forward to the Rules Committee, which will decide whether the legislation gets a vote on the House floor.
Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, said he filed the bill at the request of the education department, which wanted the requirement pushed back until the 2013-2014 school year. The law, passed last year, originally took effect next fall.
"I think that's a reasonable thing for them to ask," Nix, who sponsored the bill, told fellow lawmakers.
While there was little dissent, Rep. Alisha Morgan, D-Austell, said she wanted more details on how the curriculum changes will be implemented. She said state education officials are making multiple policy changes close together.
"How will all these things be rolled out and how will they all come together?" she said in an interview. "I don't have a problem that it's been pushed back a year because it's a lot."
The law requires ninth graders to settle on a job in one of 17 broad fields, or career pathways, such as agriculture, education and finance. Then throughout high school, the students would take at least some courses geared toward their career interests.
Under the plan, Georgia students would take the same general core of classes with basics like algebra, English and history. But at the end of their sophomore year, students would then choose one of 17 clusters to determine what advanced classes they will take.
A student interested in health sciences could take classes that include nutrition and wellness as well as chemistry and possibly go into a job after graduation. A student interested in becoming a physician would take Advanced Placement biology, physics and biotechnology classes, then go to a four-year college.
Students could change their minds and enter a different cluster.
The focus on workplace preparation reverses a previous academic approach taken by former state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox that assumed all students would attend college.