New ISBE requirements will affect future graduating classes

The Illinois State Board of Education has set new guidelines for high school graduation requirements with implications as soon as the 2024-2025 school year.

Earlier in the year, Illinois governor J.B Pritzker signed into law House Bill 2170 on March 8, 2021. The bill’s main goal was to improve racial equity in the Illinois public school system, though coupled with this were numerous additional courses and curricula which will be required in order for a student to graduate high school per the Illinois State Board of Education.

Current Antioch Community High School students will be grandfathered into current graduation requirements; however, according to Herald&Review, the soonest changes would affect ninth-graders entering the 2024-25 school year.

ACHS’s Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Jaclyn Orlov oversees and plans the addition of new courses at Antioch to ensure all curriculum requirements are being met by students.

“There are a couple of things that have just come out from [the Illinois State Board of Education],” Orlov said.

The first is that there’s going to be a digital literacy requirement, which means at some point in a student’s four years in high school, they’re going to have to have direct instruction related to digital literacy, including computer-based skills.”

— Jaclyn Orlov

The course would also include coding to an extent as well, such as navigating online information and determining reputable sources, though exact information has not yet been released from ISBE on the course materials. Rather than existing as a stand-alone class, Orlov said it is likely that it will be integrated into existing class curriculum.

Additionally, a new world language requirement will be in place beginning the 2028-29 school year. Currently, world language is not required in Illinois, though there is a one-year requirement for either language, music, art or vocational education. In the future, however, students will be mandated to take at least two years of any world language, including American Sign Language as a possibility. Though the requirement is incoming, the specifics of it are not yet known.

“We don’t know all the verbiage yet,” Orlov said. “We don’t know if it’s going to be that a student has to sit for two years in a class here or [if ] middle school language credit counts. What if a student wants to switch languages? We need more details from ISBE on that.”

This new requirement may also bring with it additional language options; more than the current choices of just Spanish or German. An American Sign Language class may happen in the future at ACHS, though no decisions have been made thus far.

Some students are unhappy with the new requirement for language in order to graduate.

“I don’t like [the new language require- ment],” ACHS freshman Liam Wroblewski said. “I don’t like the idea of learning a new language.”

Currently, students like Wroblewski could instead take something like a vocational education course to meet graduation requirements, though, in the future, they must instead take a language.

A laboratory science requirement will also be implemented starting the 2024-25 school year. Currently, ISBE requires two years of science, though it is unspecified. This affects few students at ACHS, as most already take biology and chemistry, both of which count as a laboratory science.

This change puts a stress on both Community High School District 117 and ACHS as administrators are left scrambling to adapt.

“[The digital literacy requirement] has to go into effect in two years, which is pretty urgent because we have to have our plan in place next year,” Orlov said.

The soonest of the new requirements will go into effect beginning with the 2024-25 school year, meaning all current ACHS students will not face these changes; current sixth-graders will be the first class affected.