CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Board of Education approved a policy Tuesday that increases the credits required for high school graduation from 22 to 23 with the additional credit coming from the required passing of a personal finance class.

Debra Sullivan

State lawmakers approved a bill in the 2023 session requiring the personal finance curriculum. A team of educators have worked on developing the course for the past several months.

State Board of Education member Debra Sullivan said before Tuesday’s policy approval that she had hoped the teaching of personal finance could be combined with another topic.

“I definitely believe there are students who need background in personal finance, I’m just not convinced they need a whole year,” Sullivan said.

State Department of Education Director of Student Enrichment Joey Wiseman said the requirement includes flexibility for individual schools.

“It’s a full credit, as far as credit goes, but keep in mind, this course is still up to the principal and a team of teachers at that school to determine how much time is needed to master that credit,” Wiseman said.

Carl Martin

The bill that became law last year was introduced by Del. Carl Martin, R-Upshur. It says in part, “persons with an understanding of personal finance are better prepared to manage their money and that providing a personal finance program in secondary schools in West Virginia will prepare students to handle their finances.”

The requirement will begin for high school freshmen beginning school this fall. They will take the one-hour credit in their junior or senior year.

Wiseman told the state School Board Tuesday the team put together a strong curriculum. He said they’ve also worked to make sure the curriculum is the same for high school students who take their classes at Career Technical Education centers.

“We brought the social studies teachers and the CTE teachers together. So now, those standards look the same as a personal finance or what they are teaching in CTE, it’s the same all the way across. It’s a very rigorous set of standards,” Wiseman said.

Sullivan made a point to say the state Board of Education should be in charge of credit hours required for high school graduation.

“It’s important for the state Board of Education along with the state Department of Education to be the ones who are promoting changes to graduation requirements,” Sullivan said.

The policy, Policy 2510, approved Tuesday also includes “language around physical activity (recess) for K-5, literacy and numeracy assessments, and changes to high school math credits. Additionally, language was added to provide clarity regarding grading and the transfer of students from other locations including the use of the uniform grading schedule and quality points.”

There were 80 comments made during the public comment period before Tuesday’s vote.

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