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A Gift for the Gifted: Credit Flexibility

November 12, 2009

A few weeks ago I sat in a meeting with my colleagues (Gifted Intervention Specialists), and heard our Assistant Superintendent speak to Credit Flexibility which school districts will have to implement starting the 2010-2011 school year. I thought to myself, “I need to know more about this because I am raising two high school students who could take advantage of this opportunity.” So I began to do some research on the ODE website.

As I sifted through some of the Credit Flexibility information on the ODE website I remembered taking classes in high school and seeing no point in them because I didn’t see myself ever using the information after the class was finished. I had no real stake in my education. I was doing exactly what I was told, and in the sequence it had to be done in. Well, the Ohio Senate Bill 311 is going to change that for current and future students.

One aspect of the Ohio Senate Bill 311 raised the amount of credits students will need to graduate. Looking deeper into the law, there is a small gift that gifted students can take advantage of, and that’s the Credit Flexibility Provision.

So what is Credit Flexibility, and how can it benefit gifted students? Credit Flexibility is a change in thinking. According to the ODE website, the “plan shifts the focus from “seat time” to performance.” Students now have several different avenues to get those extra credit hours needed to graduate. This benefits gifted students in several different ways. One benefit is that students can now test out of a class, and get the full credit for the class. This is very similar to the way universities operate. If a student can demonstrate that they comprehend the material at a mastery level they will have the option to test out of that class. Another benefit that is given in this provision is “education travel,” which basically allows a student go to a foreign country and learn the culture and language. The student then completes a project about what he learned and incorporates that into some real-world activity. And the student can get high school credit for that. There are other ways that students can earn those graduation credits:

According the ODE website, students can earn credits by:

* Completing coursework;
* Testing out of or demonstrating mastery of course content; or
* Pursuing one or more “educational options” (e.g., distance learning, educational travel, independent study, an internship, music, arts, after-school/tutorial program, community service or other engagement projects and sports).”

This is great for gifted students, because now they can do an independent study about a topic that would delve deep into the monster of their own education. They can use their gifts and their talents to benefit their education. Basically this is a case for differentiated instruction. I believe the state is using this provision to help the gifted meet their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Every student should have the ability to make the gains they need to, and the State of Ohio is definitely giving the gifted student that opportunity.

According to the ODE website, the Credit Flexibility Plan “is intended to motivate and increase student learning by allowing:

* Access to more learning resources, especially real-world experiences
* Customization around individual student needs
* Use of multiple measures of learning, especially those where students demonstrate what they know and can do, apply the learning, or document performance”

I believe that this is one of the best provisions that State of Ohio has came out with. They are recognizing that the industrialist attitude that has dominated our school districts for decades is outdated. The belief that putting students in a room giving them all the same information and expect them all to come out of that room at the same level just isn’t realistic. This provision is twenty-first century thinking. Believing that not every student learns at the same pace and that all students learn differently is movement in the right direction for education.

I want to encourage all parents, teachers, and administrators to continue to research this topic. As the deadline looms closer for implementation, I know that school districts will be meeting to create a plan that they will be sending out information about Credit-Flexibility for your district. If you live in Ohio do not miss the opportunity to learn about how this option will be implemented in your district. If you have the opportunity to go to a school board meeting when the members are discussing this, I encourage you to participate! Ask questions and get as much information about it as you can. Especially gifted parents and gifted intervention specialists — gather information and give it out to those who could benefit from it.

If you don’t live in Ohio, call your local superintendent’s office to see if they have a Credit Flexibility Plan, and how your child can participate.

Teachers and parents encourage gifted students to take part in this provision. It’s a gift for the gifted.

Resources
Ohio Department of Education State Board of Education: Credit Flex Plan
http://bit.ly/364qEV

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 7, 2009 6:34 am

    I was glad to read this post. I am also very excited about the opportunities credit flexibility could create for gifted students if schools are creative and open minded.

    FYI, I’ve started compiling stories and resources related to credit flexibility (including a link to this blog post) at http://www.learningconnective.org/news

    If you stumble across good policies or examples of credit flexibility in action, please let us know about them so we can help spread the word.

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