College acceptance getting harder to come by

The Columbus City Schools (CCS) Board of Education, at their May 6 meeting, heard detailed new requirements for Ohio high school graduates stemming from the passage of Ohio Core in the Senate.

“National studies indicate that all high school graduates need the same academic foundation regardless of the opportunities they pursue after graduation. The goal of Ohio’s system of elementary and secondary education is to prepare all students for graduation and seamlessly connect all students to success in life beyond high school and graduation,” said Pete Maneff, executive director of curriculum leadership and development.

The Ohio Core was implemented as Ohio law on Jan 3, 2007, as part of Senate Bill 311. The purpose of Ohio Core was to ensure students graduating high school with the intent of going on to college are ready for college-level learning.

Dr. Gene T. Harris, superintendent of CCS, said the district was very supportive of Ohio Core and testified on its behalf when the bill was still being proposed.

“The legislature is very concerned about remediation and the amount of money spent on remediation at the college level. The thought was if there was a better alignment between the high school curriculum and college entrance requirements, then our students would have a better opportunity to be successful and not only get into college but also complete it,” said Harris.

Maneff said all Ohio schools are required, by July 1, 2014, to increase the credit requirements for math and the amount of laboratory time for science courses credit. Ohio Core will also necessitate Ohio schools administering an eleventh grade state “College and Workforce Readiness” test that students will be required to pass.

“Senate Bill 311 has made provisions for students to get a high school diploma without completing the Ohio core. A student who enters ninth grade on or before July 1 access to a college education,” said Harris.

Maneff said the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Partnership for Continued Learning (PCL) is currently working on developing different testing methodologies for the Core test and that the test itself will focus on student reading and math skills.

“The way I understand it, the 10th grade test would stay in place as a graduation test for all students and then there would be an additional 11th grade level test, mainly reading and mathematics. I think the reason is getting students ready for the ACT and college entrance exams, seeing where they are, making sure they’re ready to accept that challenge,” said Harris.

Maneff did not anticipate any impact the Ohio Core would have on high school graduation for students, but the information from the tests will have an impact on “unconditional admittance” to most of Ohio colleges.

“Consequently, those test scores on the 11th grade tests could limit what was unconditional to conditional. The state is field testing at this time,” said Maneff.

Maneff said students will still be able to get a General Educational Development (GED) test if they so choose and later go to a community college with intentions of transferring to a four-year institution if they choose to do so.

“The Ohio Core is still accessing the four-year universities, so students who graduate without Core, can go to community colleges and then access four-year colleges, but we want students to access four-year universities directly,” said Maneff.

Maneff said he estimates the board will make policy-level decisions on the details of Ohio Core in June to determine how the board will interpret the Ohio Core implementation goals, which will then go into effect immediately, such as whether or not to offer a two-tier graduation with a college preparatory diploma for students that pass the Core and a basic high school diploma for those who do not; or offer one diploma for everyone.

Dorian Wingard, board liaison, said some of this process is beyond the board’s scope.

“The whole implementation process is going to invariably require that we take a look at some of how we do things without doing too much, too soon and a large majority of that sometimes ends up back in the legislature’s hands, and they look at funding requirements, take a look at how we construct the end of the school year; that’s the legislature tasks,” said Wingard.

Dance your cares away

The board also heard a presentation from Balletmet regarding the partnership programs Balletmet offers CCS students. Cheri Mitchell, executive director for Balletmet, said Balletmet’s Dance Education and Outreach Program serves about 45,000 people annually in community settings and about 80 percent of the educational program is focused in CCS.

“Another point of our educational program is that we focus on the Ohio Department of Education’s dance content standards and their integration into the school curriculum and that’s very much what we look at, not only the joy in the part of the student but making that curricular connection,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell went on to say that Balletmet’s techniques incorporate creative problem-solving skills into their program that actually improves students’ academic performance.

“Numerous studies have documented how child programs in math, science and language-arts are boosted and improved by immersion arts education. We have been committed to offer numerous arts education programs that are curriculum-based. They’re sequential, age-appropriate and they fully engage the teachers and students in the learning process and they celebrate our rich heritage of dance in our community.”

Monica Kridler, Balletmet Momentum administrator, said the Momentum program through Balletmet was so named because the program encourages movement in the children’s lives and hope to build momentum in the community to support the Momentum program.

“While academics are essentials to a student’s success, it’s the arts that build a child’s soul,” said Kridler.

Kridler said this is the fourth year of Momentum, which utilizes the talents of 400 fifth and sixth-grade students from eight schools who will present a culminating performance at the Capitol Theater on May 21, titled “Dancing Through Ohio History,” with each school performing its own theme dance. 

Linda Edgar, the district unifying arts coordinator, said the various partnership programs the schools have with Balletmet are possible through a three-year grant from the Department of Education which provides over three-quarters of a million dollars for these programs and gives teachers developmental training on integrating dance into their classrooms.

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