Thirty-five percent of Worthington high school students earn graduation credit outside the traditional classroom.

Thirty-five percent of Worthington high school students earn graduation credit outside the traditional classroom.

Some take classes online; others attend college classes; and others do their own independent studies or opt out of classes, earning credit simply by taking the final exam.

Still, three years since the Ohio legislature required schools to offer so-called credit flexibility, the vast majority of Worthington's high school credits are earned in the traditional way, according to a report presented to the Worthington Board of Education on April 22.

"Why aren't the numbers higher?" board member Marc Schare asked Worthington Kilbourne High School guidance counselor Brianna Abbott.

Credit flexibility options are not right for many students, she said. Many at that age do not know their passions.

Worthington offers 180 courses for high school students, many of which are very attractive, Thomas Worthington counselor David Quart said.

Credit flexibility information is presented on the schools' website and at curriculum nights. Sometimes, teachers encourage individual students to pursue their interests through credit flexibility options.

It is guidance counselors' responsibility to find what is best for each student, Abbott said.

Students also enjoy the teachers and the traditional high school culture, Superintendent Thomas Tucker said.

"That's why they don't leave; they're comfortable in the district," he said.

Worthington was forced to broaden the scope of its curricular offerings in response to the state mandate.

The credit flexibility options are meant to increase the depth of study, allow tailoring of learning time and conditions, and to customize learning around students' interests and needs.

Options include online/distance learning, educational travel, independent study, internships, after-school programs, community service, college classes, capstone classes, which include individual projects, and testing out.

In Worthington, 200 credits have been earned in a dual-enrollment option with Central Ohio Technical College; 140 students are enrolled in blended classes, which are taught, in part, online; and 110 take capstone classes.

Also, 50 credits have been earned through online courses; 12 students have earned credit from Brigham Young University; Indiana University, Northwestern, Columbus College of Art & Design or Adventa Learning by taking online classes.

Twenty-seven students partner with Ohio State University, Franklin University or Columbus State Community College to take 42 courses.

Seventy-seven classes are being taught through independent study.

Six students have applied for the test-out option, which allows students to earn full credit for classes by simply taking exams to show their proficiency.

Board president David Bressman said he has never been a credit flexibility fan and especially objects to allowing students to skip what could be valuable class time and just take the end-of-year exam.

"It's a crying shame a person can test out of an entire class," he said.