Columbus Schools review graduation requirements
Columbus City Schools Board of Education will face the task of deciding on increasing the district's graduation requirements as early as August.
Administrators laid out a proposal on June 2 to increase the district's graduation requirements by one credit, to 22 credits, in response to the looming Ohio CORE curriculum requirements. The new standard curriculum legislation, passed January 2007, will require districts statewide to adhere to a standard core curriculum that could determine a student's entrance into 10 out of 13 four year state assisted universities in Ohio.
The curriculum would require students to receive:
•four credits in English and math;
•three credits in social sciences and science;
•one-half credit in health and physical education; and
•five credits of electives.
It also focuses on financial literacy as well as foreign language and physical education. However, a district may choose to excuse students from the half-unit of physical education requirement if a student participates in interscholastic athletics, marching band or cheerleading. The student then has to complete another half-credit in another area of study in its place.
According to the district's curriculum administration, the district has hosted community discussion groups and information meetings as well as surveyed students, parents, teachers and staff and community members regarding the new curriculum standards.
The data gathered lead administrators to propose:
•two credits of foreign language;
•one credit of fine arts;
•one credit of an academic elective of either science or social studies;
•one credit of technology; and
•internship and a senior project each, in addition to the CORE requirements.
The district would also offer two special diplomas for students who go beyond the graduation requirements. Students who would complete five or more credits in one area of study would receive the diploma of specialization. Those who completed at least 24 credits - a fourth advanced science and social studies course and three or more years of foreign language - would receive a diploma of distinction.
Board member Ramona Reyes questioned administrators on the types of comments from those who completed the surveys or attended the group and informational meetings.
According to Kathleen Murphy of MurphyEpson Inc., who assisted in the facilitation of discussion groups, many commented on the importance of foreign language.
"There were three basic reasons why they liked the two foreign language requirements," she said. "Because primarily, the community is changing. Those who attended the discussions said they have come across people who are multi-lingual and they thought if those people could be in the United States and know several languages, then the students could learn this as well. They also know the importance it has in a global economy, and the knew that it is a college requirement."
According to Board President Carol Perkins, the board will hear the first reading for the consideration of the proposed new district requirements at the next board meeting on June 16. The board will then hear the second reading and could possibly vote on the legislation at the first or second meeting of August, when it reconvenes after summer break.
Superintendent Gene Harris asked board members for their approval in moving forward with plans to implement a new process to assign students to buildings.
"The objective is to develop a reassignment plan that makes the effective use of our buildings," Harris said. "In addition, it would accommodate highly qualified academic progress as well."
Student reassignment is the plan and pattern a district uses to place all students in a building within the district.
Harris said she brought the proposal forth to allow for the accommodation for new academic programs, relieve overcrowding, eliminate the use of modular units, address under-enrollment issues and close and consolidate schools.
With the new process, the district would implement clustering, which would allow a student to follow the same classmates throughout their educational career by attending schools near to each other. The district, however, would also allow a lottery for students who choose to attend a school not normally assigned to them. This would be done on a seat availability basis. Eliminating under-enrolled programs and developing new theme-based schools, as promised by a levy passed in November, would also take place as well as the eventual elimination of 106 modular classrooms in the district.
The time line, which Harris dubbed "pretty aggressive," would, under the guidance of external oversight committees, lead the board to vote on the new process in December. If passed, the district would implement the new process for the 2010-2011 school year.
"This is a very sensitive subject," said Perkins. "There are multiple, numerous opinions of what should and shouldn't be done. The bottom line is that Gene Harris has a course of action she wants to put together in the next several months and then, will come back for consideration."
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