School will alter coursework

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 30, 2000

COAL GROVE – Futurists predict 60 percent of all jobs in 2015 will require workers to hold an associate degree or some form of technical certification.

Sunday, January 30, 2000

COAL GROVE – Futurists predict 60 percent of all jobs in 2015 will require workers to hold an associate degree or some form of technical certification.

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And Dawson-Bryant High School will prepare students for that eventuality – if educators succeed in plans to align coursework with what companies and colleges expect, co-principal Brenda Haas said.

Because of the shift toward high technology, area workers and employees who have lost jobs want retraining, Mrs. Haas said.

"As a school, we don’t want to be introducing more people to retrain," she said.

So, Dawson-Bryant will concentrate on information technology management – a curriculum change scheduled for next school year if grant funding materializes.

Local businesses have indicated that communications skills, more math skills, working in teams, ability to accept change, multi-tasking, computer skills, leadership skills are the key attributes needed by today’s workers, Mrs. Haas said.

A mandatory information technology management course for all freshman, coupled with career passports and introduction to technology courses from the eighth grade on, will help meet that need, she said.

Friday, Mrs. Haas, co-principal Steve Easterling, technology coordinator Don Washburn Jr. and others met with Ohio University and Marshall University officials to brainstorm about specific elements of the coursework, which is expected to expand to all four high school years.

The district needs goals in its coursework that prepare students for a university’s course expectations, for example, Washburn said.

And the district will build major businesses’ expectations into classwork to prepare students for the option of working directly after high school, he said.

"We’re not replacing anything in the curriculum, we just want to make the courses more worthwhile."

Encourage high school students to take senior math classes, because 75 percent to 80 percent of first-year college students need significant help in that subject, said Don Baker of OU, who works with two-year technical programs.

Develop clusters of majors for students to choose from, develop a career chart for their plan, put them in classes that will lead there and give them early college credit to take with them after graduation, said Carol Perry, a Marshall community and technical programs specialist.

Another idea included integrating technical classes with career classes, like teaching Excel and spreadsheet skills during regular accounting classes.

Specifics of Dawson-Bryant’s tentative information technology management coursework include:

– Addressing a Fortune 500 list of needed skills in the ninth grade.

– Enrich classrooms with laptop, cellular and fax technology.

– Teach tools of management systems, networking and wireless communications.

– Begin once-weekly teacher advisor/advisee program by assigning each student to an advisor.

– Create a senior project program that would be required for graduation.

– Create three high school technical related program tracks: Academic four-year college bound, career vocational and a post-secondary two-year associate.

Not all aspects of the program may be established at once and the district plans to unveil the idea to staff this week for more comments, Mrs. Haas said.

Officials will also apply this week for a state technology preparation grant to help with staffing and future funding.