New bill to require more math and science credits to graduate

Wisconsin students may soon need more credits to graduate.

The State Assembly passed a bill Friday morning that would require three credits for both math and science instead of the existing two.

Educators in one area school district said they aren’t sure if it’s needed.

Math teacher Scott Koepnick knows for some students in his class, numbers and calculations just aren’t their thing.

“We have to do the best we can in a tough situation for them so they can understand as much of the mathematics as possible so that they can earn the credit and also get something out of the course,” said Koepnick.

Every student graduating from West Salem High school needs at least two credits in both math and science.

Requiring three credits for each isn’t much of a change for most students. Eighty percent of them already meet the challenge, but Koepnick said it’s going to be tougher for the students already struggling.


“We’re already getting pressure on state testing and things like that, so it’s just a pressure coming from a different location,” said Koepnick.

“We’re attempting to expand and increase the competencies and difficulties in our courses already,” said Troy Gunderson, the district’s superintendent.

These new requirements come on top of the Common Core standards — something district educators have spent a lot of time and resources to implement.

“We’re raising and expanding the level of content knowledge that goes within this, making them more difficult, more challenging , more experiential,” said Gunderson.

“How is that merged together adding another layer to that? So, some pretty difficult challenges.”

Under the possible change, computer science classes could count as a math credit and agricultural science classes could be for science credit, but Gunderson said incorporating these classes and making staffing changes to meet the requirements may not be easy, especially after losing about $350,000 in state aid this year.

Even so, both say they’ll do what it takes to help students succeed.

“I think you deal with it and you make the best of it, and figure out ways to best service the students based on what you have to accomplish with them,” said Koepnick.

Along with West Salem, the Holmen School District requires two credits for each math and science.

The La Crosse School District requires two for math and 2.5 for science.

The Bangor School District already requires three for science and will require three for math by 2017.

The Onalaska School District is the only one in the La Crosse area that wouldn’t see much of a change as it already requires three credits each for math and science.

The measure would allow schools to award math and science credits to students in career and technical education programs.

The bill is on its way to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk to be signed.