Shilling Adds, Subtracts Elements Of State's Proposal

October 30, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

BALTIMORE — Responding to the "sensitivity of the needs of all students," Carroll County school officials yesterday outlined their positions on stateproposals to raise high school graduation requirements.

In brief testimony before the state Board of Education, Carroll SuperintendentR. Edward Shilling and board Vice President Cheryl A. McFalls focused on proposals that would require students to take more credits in math and social studies and "volunteer" 75 hours of community service before they graduate.

The state board has proposed the new graduation requirements for ninth-graders entering high school in fall 1993.

The proposal would increase the number of credits needed for a Maryland high school diploma from 20 to 21.

The state board held hearings throughout Tuesday, listening to reaction from dozens of educators, parents and students from across Maryland. The board could act on the proposal as early as its Nov. 20 meeting.

"We applaud the restructuring of graduation requirements to eliminate the general studies program," Shillingsaid. "Requiring students to prepare for employment, college or bothis a significant step forward that makes this school improvement effort a reform for the benefit of all students, not just college-bound students."

However, he said the Carroll board and staff, after extensive review of the proposals, differed with the state on several matters. He let McFalls address those issues.

McFalls said Carroll educators favored requiring three credits in math, instead of the fourproposed by the state.

But, like the state staff, Carroll favoredincluding an algebra and geometry in the credit requirements.

Thestate board has proposed increasing the number of math credits and specifying courses because the current three-credit requirement does not specify content. In addition, the board has said that some students graduate without minimum math proficiency and without learning algebra.

Carroll officials also didn't agree with the proposal for four credits in social studies, McFalls said. She recommended reducing the number of credits to three, and requiring one credit in U.S. history, one-half in government, one-half in geography, one-half in economics and one-half elective credit.

McFalls said the state proposal fails to recognize the integration of these topics throughout the curriculum and "does a serious injustice to the value of . . . offeringslike psychology and sociology."

In science, the Carroll board hasrecommended increasing the number of science credits to three, including one credit from life sciences and one from physical sciences, she said.

The state proposals do not address science. The state currently requires students to take two credits in science.

"We believe that requiring a similar number of credits in mathematics, science and social studies more appropriately endorses both national and state goals," McFalls said. "Further, we think sensitivity needs to be given to the student who is not preparing to enter college."

The proposals, she said, limit scheduling flexibility for career and technology and special population students. The requirements would hinder opportunities for those students "to develop essential skills and competency" to enter the work world, she said.

Beyond those academic proposals, McFalls suggested the state board include a credit in technology education, specifically requiring all students to take home economics.

"It is essential to provide critical life skills such as parenting, consumer economics and nutrition wellness education for students," she said.

The state proposal for students to earn two credits in a foreign language should require would-be linguists to earn the credits in the same language, she said.

"Lastly, we strongly recommend that the state board reconsider the requirement for student service," she said. "No school system in the state has a stronger commitment to voluntary service of students than Carroll County."

She said the board has serious concerns about requiring volunteerism, noting such a requirement would have "serious implication" for staffing to provide not only instruction but also to monitor and supervise students.

School officials who testified yesterday were divided on thecommunity service requirement.

"We believe each local school system should be responsible for providing voluntary student service programs," McFalls said.

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