Sixty-nine Riverside-Brookfield High School seniors — some of the top students at the school — will be graduating on Friday without having fully met a state graduation requirement.
They took Advanced Placement microeconomics and AP macroeconomics, but apparently did not completely fulfill a state requirement that all high school graduates receive instruction in consumer education for 50 minutes per day for nine weeks.
Current seniors and students in years past who took Advanced Placement economics classes only received about six weeks of instruction in consumer education, which involves subjects such as saving money, investing, consumer credit, taxes, insurance, housing, food, transportation, health care and home furnishings.
“They were probably getting like six weeks, instead of the full nine weeks of what they were supposed to cover,” said District 208 superintendent Kevin Skinkis.
At RBHS students typically get consumer economics instruction by taking a regular economics course, a consumer economics course and Advanced Placement microeconomics class.
But the students who only took AP microeconomics and macroeconomics did not get the full nine weeks of consumer education the state requires.
“I think it was just tough getting all nine weeks into that one AP course,” Skinkis said. “The past practice here was to allow students to take AP economics, thinking it would cover all the stuff in consumer. … They touch on all the stuff, but not in the detail that we probably should. This is something that’s been going on for a long time, and we’re trying to correct it.”
The failure to meet state requirements was discovered during a review led by school board members John Keen and Laura Hruska, who comprise Skinkis’ curriculum advisory committee.
For the 2013-14 school year, the semester-long AP microeconomics and macroeconomics courses are being revamped to cover the full nine weeks of required consumer education over the course of the full year, instead of trying to cram it all into the one-semester microeconomics course.
“To ensure that we’re in full compliance we’re making that change,” Skinkis said. “The only thing we’re changing is that you’ve got to take both APs or you’ve got to take economics or consumer [economics].
So in future years, students can meet the state requirement by taking consumer economics, regular economics or both AP microeconomics and AP macroeconomics.
“Next year the curriculum is designed specifically to show where the nine weeks are covered, so it’s not as general,” Skinkis said. “After this graduating class, all those students will be in compliance.”
Many RB students take the AP economics classes as sophomores. Current juniors and sophomores who took the AP classes will be able to take a free online course to get the additional hours of instruction they need to fully meet the state consumer education graduation requirement.
“A lot of those students we’re talking about are still sophomores, so there’s still time to get them into compliance,” Skinkis said.
What about this year’s seniors who are graduating Friday who have not fully met the state graduation requirement?
“Those students still graduate,” Skinkis said.
The Illinois State Board of Education will look into the matter.
“We are going to review this situation,” said Amanda Simhauser, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education. “We can’t really speculate about the consequences right now because we need to look into it firsthand.”