Study to continue on middle school advanced credit

March 23, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Students enrolled in some rigorous middle school courses will have to wait a little longer to see if they will be able to receive high school credit for their efforts.

The Washington County Board of Education came to a consensus Tuesday afternoon to return to committee a policy that would give middle schoolers credit for certain high school-level offerings.

Board members agreed the proposed policy should be reworked to include the possibility of future classes being pushed down to the middle school level.


"My point is I think philosophically, whatever decision is made, you have to apply it to all things," said Boyd Michael III, executive director of secondary education. He told the board he predicted county middle schools could offer as many as eight courses comparable to offerings at the high school level within the next 10 years.

The policy, which was the subject of a community meeting last week, passed on first reading earlier this month. It would have given high school credit to middle schoolers who take algebra, geometry and certain levels of foreign language without lessening the course load they would be required to carry as high schoolers.

Parents and students at the community meeting told the board they believe students who take middle schools' most rigorous courses should be rewarded with the opportunity to take fewer or more diverse classes in high school. The policy would have students take two foreign language classes in high school to receive credit for their language studies as middle schoolers, and it would have upheld the county's graduation requirements of four high school math classes.

Board members said they worried offering credit for foreign language would hurt interest in some high school courses and they debated whether reducing the math graduation requirements for students who had taken algebra or geometry as middle schoolers would ultimately diminish students' educations.

Vice president Jacqueline Fischer proposed creating a high school language/communications academy and eliminating middle school language offerings or returning to an exploratory language program. She said students who would opt out of math in high school because of credits they received as middle schoolers would only be cheating themselves.

Bernadette Wagner told the board she was interested in finding a "middle ground" between offering students credit and reducing the number of requirements expected of them. She suggested they be allowed to use eligible middle school classes to satisfy one credit toward high school requirements in a given discipline.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said she could support putting endorsements on students' diplomas indicating they had taken rigorous courses while still in middle school. Morgan and Michael said they would not want to send the message to middle schoolers who received credit that they should cut back in high school.

"There are a lot of have-tos in life, and I think that should be balanced with motivating kids to want to," Morgan said.

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