Credit flexibilty program to include out-of-school achievements

Ellen Duffer | Associate Editor

Students will be able to earn high school credit outside of the classroom through alternate and innovative methods by the beginning of next school year. Due to the implementation of Ohio’s Senate Bill 311, which altered graduation requirements and provisions for earning course credit, Mason City Schools is in the process of designing a plan under which students can apply to have varying experiences accepted as transcript-ready credit.

Currently, high school students are able to acquire Carnegie Units of credit, created in 1909, which allot credit based on time spent in the classroom. According to Principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart, this measurement is not applicable to 21st century students.

“[Senate Bill 311] raised the graduation requirements for high schools in hope that students will be able to meet the demands of a global society,” McCarty-Stewart said. “[As] part of that, we have to adopt a plan that allows our students to achieve credit through flexible options. With the changes in education, really, seat time does not equate to learning – there [are] other avenues to get that.”

McCarty-Stewart said the plan should be ready for presentation to Mason’s Board of Education by December. It will incorporate the ability of students to earn credit through a myriad of activities that will be indistinguishable from traditional courses on transcripts and will outline the procedure for translating activity results into credits. According to McCarty-Stewart, this process may involve presenting projects to a board that will assign grades for credit.

“We have to make sure that the policy states that students can earn credit through completing coursework, which is currently how we exist, and/or testing out or demonstrating mastery of course content or pursuing one or more educational options, which could be, for example: educational travel, independent study, internships, music, arts, after school programs [or] community service,” McCarty-Stewart said. “It’s just very open-ended.”

Because credit under this new plan could be achieved during off-school hours, like winter and summer breaks, students could meet graduation requirements more quickly than those just utilizing the Carnegie Unit of credit.

“We can’t limit the number of courses a student can take,” McCarty-Stewart said. “It very well could excel the amount of time a student is in high school. More than likely, [students could graduate early].”