Imagine a world where the smart kids didn’t take accounting because it hurt their career. A world where accounting teachers didn’t have enough students to keep their job! That’s been a reality in Texas, but not for long.
The Houston CPA Society spearheaded a campaign to improve accounting education in the Humble Independent School District. Stephen King, Kingwood resident and Humble ISD parent helped advocate for a pilot curriculum qualifying the accounting classes at Kingwood High School for honors credit. As a result, Kingwood is the first high school in Texas to offer honors accounting starting in the fall of 2011.
Since raising the level of the class, the number of Kingwood students enrolled in accounting has grown from 19 students in 2008 to 138 this school year (2015).
Now your school can do it too! First a short history lesson:
Rebecca Parish, the accounting teacher at Kingwood High School and a CPA, alerting Steve of the challenge of getting students interested in her accounting class. Parish explained that the high school graduation plan requiring four years of math and science left less time for students to take electives, such as accounting. In addition, many of the top students ignored the class because of its on-level grade point, opting for higher credit honors courses instead.
In 2009, King brought Parish’s suggestion to raise the accounting class to an honors level to the attention of both the Texas CPA Society and its Houston Chapter board of directors. The organization subsequently lobbied the Texas Education Agency to accept accounting as a math credit under the new high school graduation plan.
While the state did not make accounting a math credit, House Bill 5 passed by the 83rd Texas.
Legislature did change the high school graduation criteria beginning to require students to select a career pathway starting in 2014-2015. Business is one of the tracks with accounting falling in that track.
With the support of the Houston CPA Society, Parish attended a three-day accounting workshop for high school teachers conducted by the accounting department at Kansas State University. With updated knowledge and the support of the Career and Technology Education director at Humble ISD and her principal, Ted Landry, Parish received approval to adopt the pilot, honors-level curriculum at Kingwood.
King’s advocacy efforts and Parish’s success story convinced the TSCPA organization to sponsor the Accounting Pilot and Bridge Program (APBP), a workshop to prepare high school accounting teachers to instruct honors classes. A goal of the program is to encourage The College Board to add accounting to its Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum by demonstrating that high school teachers are trained and using the college-level curriculum.
Parish, who has been an accounting educator for 22 years confirms: “The APBP (workshop) has a critical role in attracting the best and brightest students to the accounting profession. I feel that high school is one of the best times to expose students to the career potential of accounting. It draws students before they have invested time and money in other college majors or careers.”
The campaign to elevate the interest in accounting among high school students has come at the right time. According to the American Institute of Public Accountants, half of the CPAs today will reach retirement age in the next five years, foreshadowing a surge in the demand for accounting professionals.
But to meet that need we’ve got to get the best and the brightest to get exposed to accounting before the get to college. With this new program we can reach that goal!
Article originally published in the July 2015 FORUM