During Clinton-Massie’s Aug.17 Board of Education meeting, information regarding the restructuring of Chemistry I and Chemistry II science classes came under discussion and raised both questions and concerns about the immediate and long term future of Massie’s science curriculum.
Curriculum Director Mrs. Robyn Donisi and high school science teachers worked diligently throughout the summer to review new instructional resources that would enhance programs of study. And, in an effort to assure that the Clinton-Massie science curriculum aligned with Ohio’s New Learning Standards, Mrs. Donisi worked closely with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) science consultants to review Massie’s existing high school science curriculum.
It was at this time, during the review process, that Mrs. Donisi discovered Massie’s curriculum did not reflect the changes and updates necessary to realign the existing science curriculum with Ohio’s New Learning Standards as adopted in 2010 as the minimum course of study.
Prior to 2010, and under the Academic Content Standards, science content was defined by grade level and afforded school districts flexibility in the interpretation and development of course curriculum. As such, Chemistry I was designed for any college-bound high school student, and students interested in pursuing a career in a technical field were encouraged to take Chemistry II.
Whereas Ohio’s New Learning Standards for science defines high school courses of study as Physical Science, Biology, and Chemistry and further states that each subject is to be taught as one course for one credit hour, Clinton-Massie Schools have been issuing one credit for Chemistry I and one credit for Chemistry II for over 10 years, so it came as a surprise to learn that the ODE did not approve this arrangement.
It was also a surprise and somewhat confusing when we learned that, according to the ODE, courses “with inquiry-based laboratory experience” indicates that there will be student-centered, problem-solving components throughout the course. While this could be accomplished within the minimum 150 hours for one unit of a laboratory course, under the current language of ORC §3313.603C, this also could be accomplished within the minimum 120 hours for one unit.” Clinton-Massie students currently bank 135 hours of seat time; therefore, the district will further investigate this matter to assure compliance.
After further discussion and consideration following the Aug. 17 board meeting, administration has decided that because students’ schedules for Chem I and Chem II are already in place for the 2015-16 school year, and because some students would suffer a gap in instruction if the district transitioned to a new chemistry curriculum this year, it would be neither practical nor in the best interest of the students, to force a change on such short notice; therefore, changes to the current science curriculum will not be made.
Going forward, the district will implement curriculum changes for the 2016-17 school year and beyond. The chemistry course will be aligned with the ODE standards and will cover the merging of content from both the current Chemistry I and Chemistry II classes. At the same time, however, in some areas of content there will be a significant reduction in the level of rigor, as the new class will serve all college-bound students.
The district will also develop an appropriate second, more advanced course in chemistry for students entering a technical field. Fundamentally, our goal is to adapt our curriculum to meet the new state standards while providing a high quality and rigorous education in chemistry.
Should students, parents, and/or community members have questions and/or concerns about Clinton-Massie’s science curriculum, please feel free to contact Mrs. Donisi or me by calling 937-289-2471.
David F. Baits, Ph.D., is Superintendent of Clinton-Massie Local Schools.