MOUNT VERNON — Contrary to what one may think when reading the plan title, Ohio’s Credit Flexibility Plan does not refer to finances — it has to do with the Ohio Core legislation which raised the graduation requirements for high school students.
Ohio’s plan for credit flexibility is designed to broaden the scope of curricular options available to students, according to the Ohio Department of Education Web site, increase the depth of study possible for a particular subject and allow tailoring of learning time and/or conditions so aspects of learning can be customized around students’ interests and needs. In other words, credit will not be determined solely by the amount of time a student spends sitting in a class.
Local boards of education are required to initiate a credit flexibility plan by the start of the 2010-11 school year, and area school districts have adopted policies to that effect.
“Credit flexibility permits students to earn credit outside the traditional classroom,” said Danville high school/middle school principal Linda Kay Rex. “It is a way for students to earn credits in an area that a school may be unable to offer: Chinese is one example. ... Dual credit or advanced placement classes would not be considered credit flex because they are offered as part of the regular curriculum.”
Rex said most schools, to some degree, already provide “credit flex” options such as summer school, correspondence courses, online courses, mentorship programs and tutoring programs.
The Ohio plan expands those options by allowing students to test out of, or demonstrate mastery of, course content and by adding choices such as educational travel, independent study, an internship, music, arts, community service or other engagement projects and sports.
“I know we have one student who will be giving us a proposal for an ag co-op,” Rex said.
With the credit flexibility option, students must take responsibility for their education. “The burden,” explained Rex, “is on the student to create the proposal, research the state academic standards to be met, absorb any cost, follow through and prove knowledge or mastery of the subject. If the proposal is for a core/required course, it must address the specific Ohio academic content standards and other standards that make it comparable to classes offered in the traditional setting. The schools or teachers, as I understand it, do not create the plans nor do they find the resources a student may need to meet a proposal.”
If the flexible credit proposal is for an elective, Rex said, there is more leeway in granting credit, but may be harder to propose unless the student already has a support in place.
“If students play in a symphony, or have a regular arts engagement, they may be able to use part of that time for flex,” she said. “There will still be a need to determine if the student has ‘mastered’ the subject area at a level that will be awarded credit.
“Sports may be an option, but, possibly, only if is not part of the school’s interscholastic athletic offerings. For example, we have a student who competes in gymnastics on his own, and he could propose to use that as a credit flex option. But remember, there is more to the physical education standards than simply participating in an event.”
Centerburg’s secondary principal Mike Hebenthal said several students have expressed an interest in a flexible credit option, but there are some questions regarding the option. One problem is how to evaluate that the learning took place.
“If a student takes a class in ballet, which could be for a fine arts elective credit,” he explained, “I’m not sure how to evaluate that and assign a grade.”
A second potential sticking point is the federal requirement for highly qualified teachers. Hebenthal is not sure whether that applies to classes students may take from sources other than the school.
Funding the flexible credit classes is another issue that has not been resolved by the Ohio Department of Education. It is currently assumed the student/parent will absorb the cost.
Read Saturday’s edition to see how the East Knox School District is already utilizing the Credit Flexibility Plan.