CW freshmen a community of learners; plus state report card

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

A student-teacher lead pilot program at Canal Winchester High School is not only easing the transition from middle school, but also creating a community of learners in non-traditional ways.

9Tribe is an in-school academy of 125 randomly-selected freshmen who began the school year with a two-day boot camp to familiarize themselves with the program. All students attend the same five classes during the beginning of the day.

“Students have the freedom to learn outside the time and space limitations at the high school,” said 9Tribe English teacher Seth Bixler during the Sept. 16 Canal Winchester Board of Education meeting.

The pilot program incorporates algebra, government, science, English, health and career exploration with an emphasis on cross-curriculum projects and learning, critical thinking, creativity and socio-emotional needs of children.

Traditional classroom experiences exist side-by-side with creative experiences such as moving lessons outside or to the hallway where 40 feet of whiteboard plays host to brainstorming sessions, question and answer responses or academic exercises.

Students are invited to “shout-out” the accomplishments of others online while teachers use a Twitter account to share student activities in and outside of school.

“We developed a model to challenge students academically while providing full support aligning the curriculum,” said Bixler. “We’re very intentional with aligning this with Empowering All Students for Success. We’re trying to mold the education for what’s best for students.”

Since the same core group of students is in class together, teachers are better able to detect learning and behavioral patterns and be aware of what is going on in other classrooms.

“We’ve had complete support from the administration to do this,” said Bixler. “It really is teacher and student lead. My experience with the students is that they are engaged.We’re excited about what we’re doing and hope to share it.”

State Report Card
Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar addressed the recent state report card where the district moved up from an overall “D” to a “C” rating. While he was happy with the improvement, Sotlar said the grade is just a snapshot and not a true reflection of the district.

“It’s something we have to deal with,” Sotlar said. “We’re not teaching to the test, but preparing students for the test.”

The state report card includes six components—achievement, progress, prepare for success, graduation rate, gap closing and improvement of at-risk K-3 readers—and 10 measures of specific performance marks.

Canal Winchester scored an “A” in its graduation rate; a “B” in gap closing, which shows how well schools meet expectations for vulnerable students, and a “C” for at-risk elementary readers.

The district received a “D” in achievement, which measures state test performance progress, that evaluates growth on past performance and prepare for success, which measures how well students are prepared for future opportunities.

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