Crist inks increased Fla. graduation requirements

TALLAHASSEE — Graduating from high school just got tougher in Florida because of legislation Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law Tuesday.

The far-reaching education bill (SB 4) that adds more required math and science courses and revises testing requirements received nearly unanimous support in the Legislature.

It’s been overshadowed, though, during the 2010 legislative session by the passage, and then Crist’s veto, of a hotly debated measure that would have made it easier to fire teachers and link their pay to student test scores.

Crist, who is facing increasing hostility from fellow Republicans amid speculation he’ll bolt the party and run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, signed the graduation bill without ceremony.

It will eliminate the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, for high school math and science and replace it with end-of-course exams.

The new law also will add geometry, algebra II, biology, chemistry and physics to the list of required courses. The requirements would be phased in beginning this fall through the 2014-15 school year for entering freshmen.