Perrysburg to toughen curriculum
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Written by By DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 09:33
PERRYSBURG - Current eighth graders who may already be dreaming of sleeping in late when they're high school seniors are in for a rude awakening - those days will be over by the time they get to the end of their high school careers.
Kadee Anstadt, curriculum coordinator, spelled out the changes in store as the district pursues its goal of becoming one of the top 100 districts in the country, and on the way meeting the higher standards imposed by the state.
That will mean all students will have to earn more credits, and more students will be encouraged to earn honors diplomas. Few students avail themselves of that option now.
Board President Val Hovland said they wonder why that's necessary.
But if the district is to continue its pursuit of excellence more will have to do it, and those who do will have to do more to attain them. "An honors diploma should be the standard," Anstadt said.
The provisions of the curriculum Anstadt spelled out call for students earning an honors diploma starting with the class of 2011 to take four years of high school math, four years of high school science, three years of foreign language, four years of social studies and one year of fine arts. They also will need a 3.5 or better grade average and score a 27 on the ACT or 1210 on the Scholastic Achievement Test, though she indicated that one of those could be waived in some cases.
The proposal also calls for increasing the number of academic units required for graduation for all students to 23 from 21, starting with the class of 2014 with students required to take more math, including Algebra II, and science as well as other subjects.
"College ready is the same as work ready" Anstadt told the board. Those students planning to enter the workforce straight out of high school "need the same level of rigor" as those who are college bound.
The state does plan to start using the national ACT standardized achievement exam as its measure of whether students can graduate, replacing its own Ohio Graduation Test.
When the state announced that, Superintendent Tom Hosler said, it promised that would mean parents would not have to pay to have their children take the exam as part of the college application process. That, however, is in doubt. It would be difficult, Hosler said, for the school to administer the test to all sophomores in the same kind of controlled conditions under which the test is usually given.
Currently, Anstadt said, about two-thirds of Perrysburg graduates take the ACT, with an average score of 24.
Hovland noted that Ohio State University expected applicants to score at least 27 on the test.
The state has yet to set a standard for what students should score, but it is expected to be lower than 24, Anstadt said.
Part of the district's push will also be to offer more courses for college credit on campus, she said. This is less expensive for the district than having students travel to area college campuses, and more convenient for the students.
The district did also offer college credit classes through Oberlin College, but those were discontinued a couple years ago.
The reason, board member Walt Edinger said, was that the teachers didn't want to continue the annual training required without compensation. But, he continued, paying teachers to attend the training may be cheaper than having students take courses outside the district.
In order to give students greater flexibility in meeting these new standards, the district is also considering implementing a program where students would be awarded credit for demonstrating proficiency in a subject without taking the class. This may involve programs taken during the summer, for example, Anstadt said. At first these would be in the fine arts, foreign language or physical education.
This would be different, she noted, from the physical education waiver that was proposed last year. In this instance students would get credit and would have to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of fitness not just participate in a sport.
The changes will not only affect high school students. Anstadt said research shows that the middle grades, 6 through 8, are "the most important years" in a student's schooling.
The plan spelled out would enable students to earn more high school credit in middle school. It calls for adding an Intro to Art as an high school credit option for those not taking a foreign language or algebra for high school credit, Anstadt said.
But, she said, the district also should have the grades students earn for those high school credit classes included on the student's high school transcript. Because those grades would count toward students' high school GPAs, it would encourage them to work as hard as they can.