Geometry is made required course


In another round of graduation requirement changes that are to take effect in the next school year, students will be required to take the Maryland School Assessment test for geometry - and, therefore, the class - according to a report submitted to Carroll County's school board last night.

The report reflects recent changes made by state education officials, said Steve Johnson, director of curriculum and instruction for the county school district.

"The state has now decided the 10th-grade geometry test must be taken," Johnson said. "It used to be that if a student took geometry, he had to take the MSA. This is basically making geometry a required course. It's not a big change for us, because most of our students [already] take geometry."

The number of credits required to earn a diploma in Carroll County remains unchanged at 25.

In addition to the geometry change, state education officials eliminated the requirement that students participate in a World of Work program, through which students learn job-interviewing skills and how to write resumes.

In Carroll, the program has been infused throughout the curriculum, Johnson said. For example, students typically learn the skills in freshman seminar - a required ninth-grade course - or during their advisory periods.

School board members expressed concern about the change and suggested that they might favor a local policy to retain the requirement.

"These are some of the most worthwhile things we do," said board member Laura K. Rhodes.

Johnson told board members they could consider keeping the program but said that "it's just not a state requirement." He said school officials would find avenues for teaching the skills.

"We have local control over the curriculum," he said. "We can keep [World of Work] if we choose, or not keep it."

Board member C. Scott Stone also expressed concern about eliminating the requirement.

The state is "adding an MSA for geometry, and it seems the trend is we're going to walk away from the liberal arts aspects of the high school education," he said. "I think it's a mistake."

Board members are expected to vote on the policy that includes all of the state's most recent changes, but they might delay doing so until seeing results of an independent review of the county's high school program.

The review, being conducted by Mellenbrook Policy Advisors in Columbia, is expected to be finished next month. The review was undertaken to evaluate what the system is doing right and what it is doing wrong in its high schools.

Parents and students could be affected by more local changes in graduation requirements that would go into effect next fall, depending on the outcome of Mellenbrook's review, Johnson said.

State officials also eliminated the certificate of merit, an award for students earning at least 12 credits in advanced courses and maintaining a 3.0 grade point average.

That change won't affect graduation requirements but is sure to disappoint some students, Johnson said. The change starts with this year's senior class.

"It was a nice recognition at graduation time," he said.

In other business, the board voted in new officers. Gary W. Bauer, who has served on the board for 11 years, was chosen as president, replacing Stone. Rhodes, who was elected to the board in 2000, was named vice president, succeeding Bauer.

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