The State Board of Education (SBOE) approved new social studies curriculum standards on a series of 9-5 votes on Friday, May 21st.

The final votes came after two days of lengthy debate this week in which the board considered 213 amendments to the standards for kindergarten through 12th grade. New standards for the high school economics course passed on a 14-0 vote.

Work on the social studies curriculum began in January 2009 and attracted national attention. Standing-room-only crowds watched as the board debated many sensitive topics.

In other action, the SBOE made a slight but important adjustment to the state’s high school graduation requirements. The SBOE voted to allow students who successfully complete a two or three-credit career and technical education work-based training course prior to the 2011-2012 school year to count the class towards physical education graduation requirements.

Recent updates to the graduation requirements had eliminated the ability to receive a P.E. substitution for these CTE classes, which caused some upperclassmen to be without the required P.E. credits. Friday’s action allows them to receive the credit they believed they would receive when they began these multi-year graduation programs.

The SBOE also agreed that “science and physical education graduation requirements successfully completed prior to the 2010-2011 school year shall count toward graduation in the manner established at the time the credit was earned.” This change is particularly helpful to students who took the Integrated Physics and Chemistry class.

In light of the recent discussion on the estimated state’s budget of $15-$18 billion during the next session, the SBOE has voted to indefinitely postpone issuing textbook Proclamation 2012, which would call for the purchase of new kindergarten through 12th grade science instructional materials. The science materials were estimated to cost $347 million, which would be in addition to the $888 million in funding that must be requested to cover already approved new English language arts materials, continuing contracts and freight.

Instead, members of the board decided to purchase supplemental instructional materials that only cover new science curriculum standards for science classes offered in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8, as well as biology, chemistry, physics and Integrated Physics and Chemistry. It is particularly critical to provide the high school materials because the state’s new end-of-course exams will be built on the updated science standards adopted last year. The SBOE may include science in Proclamation 2013 when it is considered later this year.

The SBOE agreed to allow publishers to submit bids on a per-student, per-teacher basis or statewide license basis.