Recent changes in Ohio law will allow Bexley High School students to test out of certain classes and expand their educational opportunities.

Recent changes in Ohio law will allow Bexley High School students to test out of certain classes and expand their educational opportunities.

Beginning next school year, the state will require school districts to provide more flexibility by allowing students to participate in outside programs to earn credits toward graduation, said Anne Hyland, Bexley's director of curriculum and instruction.

School board members passed the required legislation March 19.

For example, the change would allow a student to take an astronomy course at Perkins Observatory in Delaware to earn science credit, Hyland said.

"It provides more flexibility in the way that students get credit toward graduation," she said.

Also on March 19, the school board approved legislation allowing a student to demonstrate competency in a subject to earn credit, Hyland said. For example, a student could travel to France over the summer then test out of French I.

"There are lots of opportunities for students to learn, more opportunities than we can offer here," Hyland said.

School board president Joan Fishel asked how the district developed the legislation. The district reviewed guidelines from the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio School Boards Association, Hyland said.

Fishel was concerned about assessment. For instance, one requirement of English 10 is for students to write a research paper. "That is what I have trouble with, unless you are going to ask them to submit one," she said.

Evaluations for some courses will be trickier than others, Hyland said.

Bexley High School principal John Kellogg said assessments could include taking a portion of the ACT or submitting a research paper. He said students would have to demonstrate they are prepared to take the next level course before receiving credit for the lower course.

"They have to show that they can do it and be successful at the next level, otherwise we have cheated the students," Kellogg said.

School board member Marlee Snowdon asked how district officials plan to keep the process uniform. Kellogg said once students begin to exercise the options, standards will be developed.

"It is not fair for one kind of English assessment (this year) and a year later, something completely different," he said.

Fishel asked if the district policy was based on policies in other states or other school districts. Kellogg said the state has passed unique legislation and Bexley reviewed policies from the Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights, Granville and Olentangy school districts.

School board member Diane Peterson said she supported the policy because the state has mandated the changes.

"I guess the news on this is we have to do this," she said.

Peterson said she didn't see anything in the proposed changes that raised red flags. She liked that district officials talked to other districts before crafting the policy.

"I look forward to hearing from you when this shakes itself out next year," she said.

Fishel said she will be curious to see how colleges respond to the new options for earning high school credits.

"This is pass-fail," she said. "I don't know if some of our high achieving students are going to want to take advantage of the options."