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Board Tightens Requirements On Instructional Hours For Oregon Students

<p>Benson Polytechnic High School</p>

Benson Polytechnic High School

The Oregon Board of Education approved more stringent requirements Thursday for how many hours public school students spend learning each year.

A loophole in the old rules had led some parents and students to complain their schedules were padded with study halls and empty periods.

Board Member Anthony Veliz, from Woodburn, said no child should have to receive a part-time education.

“What I want is more great instruction. That’s what I want for all kids. And I like the proposal, because what I do see is we’re actually raising the bar,” he said.

Chuck Bennet, speaking on behalf of Oregon’s school administrators, opposed the board’s decision. “Many school districts will have to add classrooms and teachers without any additional funding to meet the mandate,” he said.

Bennet said the rules were too inflexible and would pose problems for high school students who want to work while in school, participate in apprenticeships, or take college classes before graduating.

But others welcomed the push for more instructional hours.

“Too many students, particularly those entering community college, have to take high school level course work to meet their degree requirements, and on their own dime,” said Kelsey Cardwell, with the group Stand For Children.

The law requires schools to provide almost all of their students 990 hours of instruction a year. By comparison, an adult working forty hours a week would work 990 hours in about six months.

The requirement for high school seniors would be less, 966 hours. Elementary and middle school students would receive 900 hours a year.

School districts would have until the 2018-19 school year to meet the requirement.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting