Ohio: School leaders sorting out 'Ohio Core'

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Mon Jan 22 14:01:54 UTC 2007


School leaders sorting out 'Ohio Core'

January 21, 2007

Staff Writer

WOOSTER DISTRICT -- The "Ohio Core" establishes a new minimum high school
curriculum for public and chartered nonpublic schools. The curriculum,
designed as a more rigorous requirement for high school graduation and
prerequisite for admission to Ohio colleges, was signed into law by former
Gov. Bob Taft on Jan. 3. The first group of students to face its impact
will be the Class of 2012. Students entering their freshman year in the
2008-09 school year will be required to follow the new minimum curriculum,
still consisting of 20 units of study, but redistributed among the subject
areas. While only three units of math were required before passage of the
"Ohio Core," beginning in the fall of 2008 students must take four units
of math, including a course in Algebra II or its equivalent.

Science still will comprise three units, but beyond the required unit of
physical science and biology, one unit of advanced study in one of three
categories -- chemistry, physics or other physical science; advance
biology or other life science; astronomy, physical geology or other earth
or space science -- also will be demanded. Social studies, health and
physical education requirements remain the same. Electives will be reduced
from six units to five units and will expand from business/technology,
fine arts or foreign language to one or a combination of the following --
foreign language, fine arts, business, career-technical education, family
and consumer sciences, technology, agricultural education, or English
language arts, math, science or social studies courses not required in the
core curriculum.

Foreign language requirements may be one of the gray areas needing further
examination. When Wooster City Schools' board member Bob Walton asked at a
recent work session, "How many languages should we really teach?" his
question was based on what he described as "out of whack" student/teacher
ratios and his belief that "certain languages are essentially dying," or
no longer in demand. "... or we can't offer enough years (of a specific
language) to make it worthwhile," Walton said. Because of those
considerations, Walton said he would like to discuss the overall foreign
language department, rather than just adopt the course of study under
consideration at the board meeting.

When the core curriculum was approved, "we began that conversation," Good
said, because "foreign language is lumped in with other (academic areas)."
According to a bill summary by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission,
the state board of education must establish a foreign language advisory
council, charged with proposing a statewide foreign language
implementation plan by the end of the year.

Honors courses also will be modified. A concern for Triway Superintendent
Dave Rice is a student's right to earn physical education credits for
extracurricular activities, such as football or cheerleading. Under core
curriculum provisions, a school may excuse from physical education
requirements students who have participated in athletics, marching band or
cheerleading for at least two seasons. It may be a "good thing," Rice
said, but even so, he views it as potentially contradictory to the most
recent push from the state to increase physical activity for students as
part of the wellness policy, new this year.

Extracurricular physical activity should "be on top of (physical education
classes), not instead of," Rice said, questioning the wisdom of giving gym
credit for cheerleading, for instance, in order to free up another period
for a sedentary math class. Other exchanges also may be made under core
curriculum. The state is seeking a way to assess high school students'
preparation for college and work, particularly in the areas of English and
math. "I predict exit exams for students that indicate readiness for
freshman-level work," Good said. Also on the docket is the ability for
students to earn high school credit based on demonstration of subject area

Rice predicted it will take some time to work out the kinks and plans to
concentrate on the effort over the summer. Good has presented information
on core curriculum to district principals and plans presentations for high
school department heads and monthly administrative meetings.



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