Incoming Chowan County high school students will have to take only one course solely focused on American history to get a diploma, the result of a personal finance course mandated by the General Assembly.

The State Board of Education adopted on Thursday new graduation requirements for freshmen entering high school in the 2020-21 school year to reflect the new directive for the economics and finance class.

Edenton-Chowan School Superintendent Rob Jackson said he welcomes the new class. No additional staff will be hired to teach the course.

“I am excited about the formal inclusion of a required course for high school graduation in ‘Economics and Personal Finance’ as I know that I would have benefited from such a course in high school, as would have my personal children,” he said.

Jackson noted the NC State Board Graduation Requirements policy requires that ninth-graders entering high school in the fall of 2020 and beyond must take an Economics and Personal Finance course as a part of the four Social Studies credits required for graduation.

“This does not change the total number of required Social Studies graduation credits,” he said. “Working with the high school social studies teachers, administrators at the high school, and district curriculum staff, a determination will be made for what high school grade level this course will be associated with in the four-course Social Studies continuum of required courses for graduation. This will be communicated in the High School Program of Studies and in parent meetings when the current eighth graders register for next year’s high school courses.”

According to the proposed standards of the course, which are currently under public review, student will learn at the minimum:

  • The true cost of credit.
  • Choosing and managing a credit card.
  • Borrowing money for an automobile or other large purchase.
  • Home mortgages.
  • Credit scoring and credit reports.
  • Planning and paying for post-secondary education.
  • Other relevant financial literacy issues.

To accommodate the new demand, the state board agreed to reduce the number of required U.S. history courses from two to one. Some social studies teachers have worried the legislative mandate would squeeze out U.S. history instruction.

State education officials contend the change will not result in less student knowledge of American history, pointing out elementary and middle school learning on the subject and the history content in a revamped high school civics class, which also is a graduation requirement. The students also will still have to take a world history course.

A coalition of legislators from both parties and outside groups successfully pushed for the personal finance mandate last year, saying it would help students become more economically savvy and self-sufficient as adults.

Contact Nicole Bowman-Layton at nlayton@ncweeklies.com.