MIAMI COUNTY — Three educational leaders came together to discuss the state of education in Miami County from high school to college in a joint event hosted by the Miami County Chambers of Commerce.
Dave Larson, superintendent of the Miami County Education Service Center, went over the Ohio Department of Education’s new strategic plan for education between 2019 and 2024, along with the changing world of graduation requirements and local school budgets.
Larson said that schools previously lacked direction on the “shaping and molding” of Ohio’s students. The strategic plan is a shift from focusing solely on test scores to looking at the “whole child.”
“We’re partners with communities and families for developing the whole child,” Larson said.
Larson also encouraged school leaders to “change the dialogue,” as well, such as when state report cards are released in the fall and the focus returns to student testing results.
Larson then addressed graduation requirements and how the state’s recent attempt at making graduation requirements more “rigorous” put students in jeopardy of not graduating, and it was a plan that included points for end-of-course exams along with state testing. He said that caused their schools’ numbers to “plummet in expected graduation rates.”
“It was portrayed as becoming more rigorous,” said Larson, who added that the plan did not have enough research and enough vetting behind it.
The state delayed those requirements, including different options for the classes of 2019 and 2020.
“Currently, there are multiple pathways to graduation,” Larson said. He said that there is a two-year plan supported by the Ohio Department of Education and the State Board of Education, which includes the option of a students doing a capstone project instead of state testing.
Larson also went over schools’ budgets, explaining that schools receive approximately 45 percent of their funding from the state, approximately 45 percent from local funds, and less than 10 percent from federal funding. He said that the Ohio General Assembly is proposing a new model to fund schools, but it may end up favoring schools that are already in wealthy districts.
Locally, Larson encouraged attendees to support school levies on the May ballot.
Dr. Nancy Luce, superintendent of the Upper Valley Career Center (UVCC), discussed career technical education, both in terms of what UVCC has to offer and the benefits of career technical education in general.
“Students not only want, they expect and they demand options,” Luce said. She added, “Ohio is the national leader in career technical education.”
Luce said that Ohio’s 49 career technical schools offer 16 career clusters and 96 career pathways. At UVCC, they offer 11 career clusters and 24 programs. Their adult division also offers access to adults who want to change careers, obtain new credentials, and/or improve skills.
Luce addressed the stigma and myths that students who attend career technical schools “are considered less-than,” saying that UVCC has a 98 percent high school graduation rate, with 40 percent of those students earning industry credits in their field. Approximately 96 percent of their students also go on to be employed, enlisted in the military, or involved in a post-secondary program.
Not only are those students undergoing the same graduation requirements as students at their home high schools, but they are undergoing “intense skill-based training,” Luce said.
“These kids are performing above and beyond,” Luce said. She added that career technical education offers students ”a chance to get a jump-start on their career.”
Dr. Doreen Larson, president of Edison State Community College, finished off the event by talking about the benefits of Edison State and community colleges as well as highlighting College Credit Plus classes.
“College Credit Plus is a progressive and ever-changing movement in Ohio,” Dr. Larson said. “These are free college classes.” She said those courses offer early exposure to college work, making the shift less of a shock, and they reduce the time it takes for students to complete degrees.
Dr. Larson said that Edison State decided to become a “wholesale” provider of the “highest quality” of College Credit Plus courses. Approximately 50 percent of Edison State’s enrollment is from College Credit Plus, so they offer additional incentives to keep students at Edison State. Depending on how many College Credit Plus courses students take, Edison State may offer to waive tuition fees for those students to complete an associate’s degree at Edison State.
Dr. Larson also highlighted their community partnerships, including with other educational institutions like UVCC and Sinclair Community College.
“The way we sustain and grow is through our partnership,” Dr. Larson said.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org