MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — On Thursday, the Alabama Board of Education signaled support for new graduation requirements impacting the class of 2028.

Currently, Alabama students aren’t as ready as they could be for life after high school. The graduation rate last year was 92%, but the college and career readiness rate was 76%.

Gov. Kay Ivey hopes this plan will change that.

“This is about closing opportunity gaps by making sure that our students are ready to take the next step,” Ivey told the Board.

Under the proposed requirements, students have to complete at least one of several options indicating they’re ready for college or a career.

The choices include scoring at least a three on an AP test, completing an apprenticeship or being accepted into the military.

Other requirements include:

  • Earning a benchmark score in any subject area on the ACT college entrance exam
  • Earning a qualifying score of four or higher on an international baccalaureate exam
  • Earning college credit while in high school
  • Earning a silver or gold level on the ACT WorkKeys Exam
  • Earning a career technical industry credential listed on the compendium of valuable credentials of the Alabama Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways
  • Attaining career and technical education completer status
  • Any additional college and career readiness indicator approved by the State Board of Education

Some Board members expressed concern that students in struggling districts won’t have the resources to do things like attend a tech-ed program or AP class.

District 5 Board member Tonya Chestnut worries these requirements may hold some students back from graduating entirely.

“If you’re going to mandate a requirement that involves all students, there should be some type of plan in place to ensure, again, that they have similar experiences,” Chestnut said.

Superintendent Eric Mackey says it’s a priority to ensure all students can meet these goals, and says the guidelines may change before they are officially implemented.

“We really do need to move this for the class of ’28, but I understand the concerns some board members had. There may be some tweaking to the rule,” Mackey said.

The guidelines were drafted in part by the Alabama Workforce Council and Business Education Alliance of Alabama.

The vote today was that the board intends to adopt these guidelines. There will be a 45 day comment period before a final vote in November.