Center Grove High School students will be expected to take more online and college-level courses in the next few years.
If more students take courses that are online and more demanding, they’ll be better prepared for the kinds of classes they’ll take in college, school officials said.
The goal is one of 11 developed by a group of nearly 50 teachers, students, administrators and parents, which also include increasing the high school’s graduation rate and more students earning academic and technical honors diplomas.
The goals, which the high school would aim to achieve over the next several years, are focused on preparing students for college and careers.
For example, about 41 percent of Center Grove’s 2013 graduates took courses that could earn them college credit, while 19 percent of those graduates took courses that were entirely or partially online. Eventually, school officials want all students earning Core 40 diplomas to take at least two college-level courses, and all students earning Core 40 and honors diplomas to pass an online course, or a course that blends traditional and online lessons.
“That is exactly what they’re going to be involved in in college,” Superintendent Richard Arkanoff said. “We need to prepare them for a postsecondary education.”
Center Grove regularly reviews the courses and programs offered at its elementary, middle and high schools. The teachers, students and parents who created the new goals for the high school met 11 times from October through March before submitting their list of recommendations.
To accomplish the goals, the high school needs to start communicating more with students and their parents about the online courses Center Grove offers and the importance of taking rigorous classes early, assistant director for curriculum instruction assessment and special education Jack Parker said.
Center Grove already has an early college program in which students, beginning their freshman year, can take college-level courses through Vincennes University and earn 30 to 60 college credits. This fall, 175 freshmen have signed up for the early college program, up from 127 who signed up last school year.
Center Grove wants to ensure more students also take Advanced Placement and other college-level courses, Parker said. If students take and pass college-level courses, that can save them money on college tuition. And if they take more challenging courses earlier, students will be better prepared for the kinds of classes they’ll take in college, Parker said.
To reach the goal of getting
100 percent of Core 40 students taking two college-level courses, Center Grove will need to offer more AP and college-level courses and talk with students in middle school about the courses available and why they need to consider taking them, Parker said.
As more students take more rigorous courses, that should also encourage more of them to earn academic honors diplomas, Parker said. About 39 percent of 2013 graduates earned honors diplomas, and school officials want to see that rate improve to at least
54 percent by the end of the 2018-19 school year, Parker said.
He added school officials need to encourage more students to take online courses.
Center Grove started offering online and blended courses last summer, and since then teachers have been creating online courses for required and elective classes.
Arkanoff said he believes more colleges and universities will require students to take online classes and that students will be more interested in online offerings as more become available.
“The kids are desiring it, they want it. We’re really just trying to keep up with the demand,” he said.
High school officials also want to provide more help for students who have either failed or who are in danger of failing the Algebra I and English 10 end-of-course assessments, which are required for graduation. In 2013, 81 percent of Center Grove’s students passed the algebra assessment, and 89 percent of students passed the English assessment, according to data from the Indiana Department of Education.
Center Grove officials want to work with students who don’t pass those exams earlier, so that they’ll have a better chance of passing the tests and graduating on time. And that should enable Center Grove to improve its graduation rate.
The rate was at 92 percent in 2013, and officials want to increase that to 96 percent over the next four years, Parker said.
“As good as we are, we want to get better,” he said. “We want to push ourselves.”