America's public school system has served our republic well for more than two centuries.
From Benjamin Franklin's academy in Philadelphia to hundreds of one-room schoolhouses in early America, our public schools have served as the foundation for this great country.
Our public schools have prepared students for the shift from agrarian to manufacturing economies, through the Industrial Age to the Information Age.
Our economic strength is supported by the backbone of free and appropriate public education. The investment in our public schools is paid forward with every generation; today's students are tomorrow's doctors, innovators, teachers and leaders.
As education has adapted and adjusted throughout our history, we are at yet another crossroads. Since "A Nation at Risk," a comprehensive report issued during President Reagan's administration, we have aimed to standardize public education. Iterations of standardized tests and complex legislative mandates have pushed our public schools to normalize the high school graduate. At the same time, for many students, success in high school was defined by matriculation to college.
We are at yet another crossroads for American education; we are ready to define success using a different matrix.
I am proud that our Hilliard City Schools once again are ahead of the curve, as our district already has begun to prepare students for tomorrow's needs. The 2020 Plan, under the leadership of former Superintendent Dale McVey, started our journey, and our Next X plan sets our direction for the future.
Our education system must shift from standardization to personalization. We no longer are preparing all students to attend a four-year college. We no longer are preparing all students for success on a single, one-time assessment. The testing era is drawing to a close, and the problem-solving and innovation era has arrived.
As a member of Gov. Mike DeWine's Executive Workforce Board, I have the opportunity to engage business leaders from across Ohio. As the Superintendent in Residence at Ohio State University, I am blessed with access to the faculty at Ohio's flagship university. With every interaction and with every program, one thing is clear: the direction we are moving in Hilliard is preparing our students for future success.
Ohio's new graduation requirements provide multiple pathways for students to earn a high school diploma.
Ohio no longer is "test focused" as the golden ticket to graduation. Yes, our college-bound students still have the opportunity to earn graduation seals through performance on individual assessments, but there also are many other options. Ohio has shifted from standardization to personalization. Districts have the opportunity to create and approve local graduation seals as part of the high school experience.
Even for graduates interested in attending a four-year college, standardized tests quickly are becoming a thing of the past. More than 40% of all four-year colleges no longer require the ACT or SAT, and this group now includes two Ivy League Institutions. Gallup reports that a student's level of hope is a more significant predictor of success at the college level than an ACT score or high school GPA.
Your school district is dedicated to creating multiple pathways to prepare students to be ready for tomorrow.
We will, of course, continue to provide Advanced Placement courses and a rigorous college-prep program for some students. The students, through our partnership with Columbus State Community College, earned more than 6,000 college credits last year.
Through Canvas, a learning-management system used by the district, and our digital-learning resources, we are preparing our students for a digital college experience. Ohio State, Ohio University and the vast majority of colleges and universities are becoming "all-digital" in their resources. Hilliard continues to prepare our students for success at the next level.
Our district also is preparing an increasing number of graduates for success that does not require college – and college debt.
Our active partnership with major corporate partners cultivates pathways that lead students directly to the workforce and additional, free learning. Partnering with Amazon and Worthington Industries not only puts Hilliard students in the workforce while still in high school, but it also creates opportunities for the students to have future learning paid for by their employers. Our partnership with Tolles Career & Technical Center is an option for students interested in specific technical fields.
Yes, our elementary schools must continue to build a strong, consistent academic foundation for all students. Every student must have specific core skills for success.
By the high school level, we must change the experience. Fewer and fewer students will be in high school for eight periods a day for four years. We must continue to develop business partnerships, create new pathways and inspire students to think differently. Our Innovation Campus is a crucial component of Hilliard's success and plans.
At every level, personalization is of higher value than standardization. At every level, life skills are better predictors of success than academic skills.
Our education system, specifically at the middle school and high school levels, is in a transition phase. I am proud of where we are and where we are going as a district. What we do can't be measured by a test – it is measured by our students' success in the future.
Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.