Stuff to know.

Columbus City Schools' officials are discussing new graduation requirements that would be stiffer than the state mandates but might allow students to begin earning high-school credit as early as seventh grade.

District administrators plan to reveal a recommendation this spring to revamp the credits needed to earn a diploma from Columbus high schools. Last month, they briefed school-board members on changes under consideration, including adding a fourth credit requirement in social studies or science. The requirements would allow the district to meet or exceed the Ohio Core curriculum, which mandates a more rigorous program for students graduating in 2014 or later. Administrators stressed that new requirements are only being discussed, and that no decisions have been made.
Some board members had emotional responses to changes under consideration. Betty Drummond, the board's most senior member, vigorously denounced allowing athletes to waive the required half-credit of physical education if they complete two sports seasons, a policy that the state allows districts to adopt under Ohio Core. "All of the academics that we are providing to make these good learners and good citizens won't mean a hill of beans if they aren't healthy students," Drummond said. "We ought to be teaching our kids lifelong activities so that it continues long after the time they are students."

Currently, Columbus students must complete at least 21 credits for a diploma, or 22 for a college-preparatory diploma. The new requirements under consideration would total between 22 and 25 credits, said Pete Maneff, executive director of high-school curriculum.
The high-school day, which will include seven class periods this fall, allows students to earn up to 28 credits over four years, district administrators said.

Board member W. Shawna Gibbs expressed concern about the amount of academic requirements. "You really don't want to burn our students out," she said. "I'd advocate to make sure we have enough study halls and other courses that round it out - the arts, theater, dance, drama - so it isn't just nonstop, because some students won't respond very well if it isn't spaced out."

District officials said they also are considering reducing the foreign-language requirement for the college-preparatory diploma from three credits to two.