Science, math bar going up at SHHS

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

New state requirements for more math and science are driving changes to Sweet Home High School graduation requirements, officials say.

The District 55 School Board is reviewing policy revisions to implement the changes.

“The big push now is going to be starting harder math earlier,” said high school Principal Pat Stineff.

With algebra requirements in the first year of high school math, the district will have to beef up math education beginning at the elementary level.

Because Sweet Home already requires more math than the state does, local students are closer to the mark than other districts. The state requires 22 credits right now while Sweet Home High School requires 26 credits. The state requires three credits of English and language arts; two credits of math; two credits of science; three credits of social studies; one credit of physical education; one credit of health; one credit of second language, arts or professional technical education; and nine credits of electives.

The district requires three more electives and one more credit each in English and math than the state. Four of the electives were required to be CAM- (certificate of advanced mastery) related.

In 2010, the state will require a total of 24 credits, including an additional credit each in math and English.

In 2012, with this year’s class of freshmen, SHHS will have to change graduation requirements, adding one science credit, which must include “lab experiences” and “scientific inquiry,” and two credits in second language, arts or professional technical education.

In 2014, this year’s seventh grade, high school math must start with algebra.

Stineff said there may be opportunities for students to earn high school credit while at the junior high level, giving them more time if they need it at the high school level.

These changes are part of wider changes at the state level.

“They’re doing away with CIM (certificate of initial mastery) and CAM (certificate of advanced mastery),” Stineff said. The CAM has been morphed into personalized career-oriented learning. The CIM is now termed “essential skills.”

The name went away, but the components of the CIM and CAM remain, she said, And SHHS will continue to award certificates for completing those components.

Students will still complete tasks, like they do with the 10th-grade CIM requirements, to prove they have developed their “essential skills,” she said. They include instruction infused throughout the curriculum and applied in a variety of settings.

Among them are reading and interpreting a variety of texts, writing, speaking and presenting publicly, applying math in a variety of settings, using technology, thinking critically and analytically, demonstrating civic and community engagement, demonstrating “global literacy,” and demonstrating career-related learning, including personal management, teamwork, employment foundations and career development.

In the junior and senior years, students will continue following the program set up over the past couple of years at SHHS as part of the CAM, Stineff said.

Students develop an education plan and profile, connecting the school experience and coursework with post-high school goals. They must demonstrate knowledge and skills in personal management, problem solving, communication, teamwork, employment foundations and career development; and they must have real-life experiences in the workplace, community or school relevant to their education plan. They also must extend what they’ve learned into real world contexts.

The board held the first reading of the new policy at its meeting on Aug. 20. It will hold its second reading, with the possibility of approval, on Sept. 10.

The board also may take action after the third reading of a policy governing Internet permission forms.

The board held the second reading of the policy on Aug. 20.

SHHS has been using a “passive” permission slip this year, Stineff said.

That means the district asks parents to sign a form if they do not want their children using the Internet at school. Up until now, the district has required a permission slip from parents to allow their children to use the Internet.

Some board members were concerned about that sort of arrangement, and the board was unable to approve the new policy because a unanimous decision is required to pass a policy in its second reading. At the third reading, on Sept. 10, only a majority is required.

Since the board discussion on Aug. 20, SHHS has gone back to the old type of permission slips, Stineff said.