Adkins rebuffed concerns that the measure would create a “sub-class” of diplomas.
“It’s the same standard high school diploma for both of these designations,” she said. “Regardless of which designation is on their diploma, [students] are going to be college ready.”
When the proposal first surfaced earlier this year, it met some resistance from the Foundation for Florida’s Future, former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education think tank. Executive Director Patricia Levesque opposed dropping geometry from the graduation requirements, and voiced concerns about creating a watered-down path to graduation.
But a foundation spokeswoman noted that many changes had been made since those early committees.
“This bill will help ensure students leave more equipped for success beyond the K-12 classroom, whether that setting is college, the military or an industry of their choosing,” Levesque said in a statement.
Pinellas Superintendent Mike Grego said the state had been trying to fit all students into a narrow path to graduation, something that didn’t give school districts flexibility. He considers the various designations a step in the right direction, he said.
Grego also said it was a “huge win” to make end-of-course exams a part of a student’s final grade rather than pass-fail tests. As for the higher education provisions, the universities designated as “preeminent” would receive additional money to create an online school. Universities meeting most of the standards for preeminence would get money to create a master’s program in cloud computing and establish an entrepreneurs-in-residence program.
The proposal also lays the groundwork for funding Florida’s colleges and universities based on performance, rather than enrollment.
And it would exempt colleges and universities from the state caps on bonuses and severance pay.
Last year, Scott vetoed legislation that would have allowed preeminent state research universities to raise tuition and fees at differentiated rates each academic year.
But House Higher Education Subcommittee Chairwoman Jeanette Nuñez has said she expects this year’s version to become law because it doesn’t have that provision.
Nuñez, a Miami Republican, called the bill “a catalyst for innovation.”
“It’s going to put our universities on a path to really excel and to compete for the best and the brightest,” she said.
Tampa Bay Times staff writer Cara Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.
Miami Herald staff writer Kathleen McGrory can be reached at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.