Danni McConnell, a Reynoldsburg High School senior, presented the school board Nov. 20 with a petition with 250 signatures from students, alumni, residents and parents who believe that the district’s academic standards are too low.
"Imagine the OSU football team playing at middle school level," McConnell said. "Now imagine students capable of college schoolwork learning at a 10th grade level…I know from experience that this occurs daily at Reynoldsburg High School."
McConnell faulted the district for simply preparing students to pass state standardized tests, and claimed that Reynoldsburg’s scores on these and the ACT have been declining.
She pointed to research that shows 76 percent of 2006 high school graduates, who have taken recommended core courses, are unprepared for college-level work.
This appears to hold true for Reynoldsburg, as well, McConnell asserted, as half of its graduates drop out of college within their first year.
The malaise extends to the lower grades, McConnell believes.
"I’m tired of asking my sister… an incredibly intelligent sixth grader," what she learned in school that day and getting the answer "nothing," McConnell said.
The student said she was prompted to address the board after the Student Council president failed to deliver a scheduled speech.
She said she has been researching the topic since September, and most of the information is available on the Ohio Department of Education’s web site.
Board President Cheryl Max responded that she has had two children graduate from Reynoldsburg schools, and has one still enrolled, "and I have always found opportunities for my children to engage in curriculum that stretches them."
Board member Mary Jane Underwood added that students have to take responsibility for directing their own learning, and asked McConnell to come up with some specific recommendations to raise standards.
Superintendent Richard Ross said he disagreed with a lot of what McConnell said, but agrees that American educational standards as a whole are too low.
After the meeting, McConnell, who plans to study to become a teacher, said she thinks it is up to the board to come up with ideas to bolster learning.