Forward Progress

facility-meeting

On Sunday I heard a speaker say that what he was most thankful for this week was forward progress.  It took me a second to catch on but in football forward progress is a player’s forward momentum when carrying the ball, which is used to determine the spot of the ball when the play ends and where the next play will begin.  In Saturday’s Ohio State v. Michigan game Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was awarded a first down based on his forward progress on a crucial fourth and one run in double overtime.  The Buckeyes won the game on the very next play.

Forward progress is not just applicable to football.  A major part of accomplishing a significant goal is just about making forward progress.  Thus, I’m happy to report that as a school district we’re making forward progress on our Master Facility Planning Process.  In September we held three community meetings and administered an online survey to gauge community expectations for this process.  In October and November our facilities planning community task force met to review community expectations and to design an educational framework and questions to ask the community.

Our next step in this process is to ask you to attend one of our community meetings next week: Monday, December 5th at TWHS or Wednesday, December 7th at WKHS (meetings are a repeat of the same information so you can choose which one to attend and they will begin at 6:30 P.M.)  During the meetings we’ll be soliciting community feedback on a variety of educational topics such as school size, grade configuration, community tolerance for boundary changes, program delivery, etc…  Our facilities task force will then use the information provided by the community to guide the creation of potential options that could be considered.  We want you to be part of this important process that will impact our Worthington community for generations to come.  

We’re excited that we’re making forward progress.  We hope you’ll choose to partner with us this month and help us move a little further ahead.  You can find more information about next week’s meetings and the entire planning process at http://www.worthington.k12.oh.us/domain/989

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Thankful

thanksIt’s Thanksgiving week.  There’s a lot to be very thankful for in Worthington Schools!

I’m thankful that while I read about the many social challenges experienced throughout our country it’s clear that all students and families are welcome in Worthington. Worthington is a diverse community that is tolerant of one another and all students and families are welcome in Worthington Schools and in our broader Worthington community.  Our community is known for creating safe and open-minded learning environments, where students and teachers respect and cherish differences.  Every student in our schools has the right to learn in a supportive environment, where who they are and where they came from is appreciated and even celebrated.  Certainly we have our issues but overall we are a community committed to creating a culture of empathy and support where everyone can learn and grow and experience success.

I’m thankful that Worthington Schools is a growing school district.  There are over 10,000 unique children who attend our schools each and every day.  We’ve grown over 500 students in just the past five years and our projections show that we’ll likely grow another 400 – 500 students in the next five years.  In an educational era of school choice and competition families and students are consistently believing that Worthington Schools will provide them with the best possible opportunities and will best prepare them for the future.  Growth has it’s challenges and thus we now can’t always guarantee that we’ll have the necessary classroom space for every student in a particular school’s attendance area with the programs we are attempting to run and this is a difficult issue that we’ll continue to confront, but overall growth is good and I’m thankful that’s where we are in Worthington.

I’m thankful that Worthington Schools has incredibly dedicated staff members who build life-long positive relationships with the students they teach.  Last weekend I attended the funeral service for a family friend up in Sunbury, Ohio.  Longtime Worthington Swim Coach, Jim Callahan, also attended this service because the two boys of our friend who had passed away were high school swimmers.  They were swimmers for Thomas Worthington 20 years ago!  Jim cared enough to show-up for a family whose kids had graduated 20 years ago.  I was impressed and am thankful to work with a strong cadre of professionals just like Jim.

This list of things I’m thankful for in Worthington could go on and on and on.  I hope you have some time this week to reflect on the many things in each of our lives that we have to be thankful for.  Have a great Thanksgiving!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

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Are you on point…?

Are you on point?  That’s the question that we’re asking our high school students.

There are new state graduation requirements for students in the class of 2018 and beyond.  As in the past, the State of Ohio requires students to pass a series of assessments in order to graduate.  Students now take assessments in seven subject areas: Math I, Math 2, U.S. History, U.S. Government, English Language Arts I, English Language Arts II, and Physical Science and Biology.  (There are two other paths to graduation: 1.  Earn a remediation free score on the ACT/SAT 2.  Earn an Industry Credential and pass the WorkKeys Assessment)  You can learn more about the system here.

Beginning with the class of 2018, the State of Ohio requires students to earn a combined total of 18 points on end-of-course assessments in order to graduate.  The 18 points must include a minimum of four points from Mathematics assessments, four points from English Language Arts assessments, and a total of six points from Science and Social Studies assessments combined.  The remaining points may come from a combination of any end-of-course assessment.  

In addition, students who take Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests in Biology, American History, or American Government and whose AP or IB scores meet the state’s criteria, may use their AP or IB test scores in place of the state’s end-of-course assessment.  Students enrolled in the College Credit Plus courses in these same areas may use their grades in place of the state’s end-of-course assessments.

The State of Ohio School Board will be weighing in on the issue of the graduation requirement at their meeting on November 14 and 15.  I’d like to see them make some changes in the current law, at least for a while. There is absolutely no federal requirement, under ESSA or otherwise, for graduation to be dependent upon passing a test. Ohio is one of only 14 states to require this, down from 25 states just 10 years ago. Current high school students deserve a “safe harbor” so that state tests have no bearing on their graduation.  The current Junior class has been assessed using three different assessment systems implemented by the State of Ohio.  As 8th graders they were given the Ohio Achievement Tests.  As 9th graders they were given PARCC and as 10th grades Ohio switched to AIR.  These constant changes and the significant increase in what is expected for passage lead many statewide to become concerned that there has been too much change and too fast for this group of students.

In addition the three pathways system while promising long-term is somewhat of a myth right now.  Students who can earn the remediation free score on the ACT/SAT are also likely earning their points on the graduation tests.  Thus, those two pathways help the same students.  The industry credential pathway has promise over time but currently we do not have enough industry credential pathways on our campuses for the students who need them.  Thus that is a limited pathway option at this time.

In Worthington specifically we are working to help all students and parents have an accurate understanding of where they stand in the points they have earned.  All parents of juniors were mailed a personalized letter showing them the points they have earned and what they still need to accomplish.  We are concerned that approximately 12% of our current junior class is in real danger of not graduating next year.  Many of those students are identified as ELL which means they are just now learning English.  Our teachers and principals are actively working with our students to provide intervention and retake assessments to help students earn points.  

We believe in high standards and in accountability.  However I do believe Ohio needs to find a way to create safe harbor for our students until we can create a stable assessment system that is reliable and valid and until we can build more industry credential pathways for students to access.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent
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Back-to-Back

twfhOn what was a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon much of Worthington traveled south to Upper Arlington to watch the Thomas Worthington Girls Field Hockey Team capture their second consecutive Ohio High School State Field Hockey Championship by beating Shaker Heights High School 3-0.  The team went back-to-back!  This is the 5th State Field Hockey Championship for Thomas Worthington with the previous championships coming in 2015, 2011, 2007 and 1988.

As I watched these young ladies compete I saw a group of girls who prove that you can be scholars in the classroom and fierce on the field.  When my own daughters were in primary school we would sometimes walk with them to school and often a young Emma Anderson would bound out of her house, backpack in hand, and also head to the elementary school.  Emma has a perpetual smile on her face and my girls couldn’t help but look up to her.  On Saturday, that continued as the little girl with a great smile completed her senior season with a state championship.  

In third grade my oldest daughter played Worthington Youth Booster Field Hockey.  The Field Hockey Director at the time was Rob Mertz.  He taught us how to buy the correct stick and which goggles were the approved ones.  At that time Stephanie, his daughter, was in middle school.  Like Emma, on Saturday we were able to see Stephanie celebrate her senior season with another championship.

Thomas Worthington Sophomore Althea Chan lives up the street from our home.  When I went to a game early this season I couldn’t believe that Althea was a Sophomore and more I couldn’t believe how good she was at Field Hockey.  It was an incredible joy to watch our neighbor win her first State Championship.

It’s always fun to win!  It’s special when a team commits to “Do the Work” and that work is rewarded.  But, win or lose it’s special to get to watch a community come together to support a group of students.  It’s great to watch our little girls mature into young ladies and it’s fun to see their dad’s sweating it out in the stands (I’m talking about you Hanson Perese and Mark Huber….)

Thomas Worthington went back-to-back and that’s a significant accomplishment!  I’m sure next year there will be stiff competition from Academy, Liberty, Watterson and from Worthington Kilbourne, but I wouldn’t want to play this team next year either.  An offense led by Sarah Charley and Maya McDaniel and a defense led by Paige Lampman and Isabelle Perese will be a formidable group.  But next year is for another time.  Today we say congratulations ladies.  You did it again!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

P.S.  Worthington Kilbourne Boys Lacrosse, we’re expecting you to go back-to-back too!  Just sayin….

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