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07-14-06 Officials still finding fault

By William Kincaid
wkincaid@dailystandard.com

  Coldwater Exempted Village School Superintendent Rich Seas and Fort Recovery Local Schools Superintendent David Riel both want a more systematic method of adding or removing Tri Star programs.



  Seas and the Coldwater board of education continue to criticize how Tri Star officials decide whether to keep or remove a program -- based on both attendance and post high school placement in related jobs -- during this weeks regular board meeting.

  They also want to know the decision process of adding new programs, as the local and national economic climate changes.

  Seas said the Tri Star advisory council, consisting of appointed, not elected officials, has made many program decisions without the consensual support of the board of education.

  For example, at a February board meeting, both Seas and the board of education learned that an E-Commerce program was removed from the Tri Star curriculum -- and neither Seas nor the board was notified of the transaction, they said.  Tri Star Director Tim Buschur, who is responsible to continuously appraise and evaluate all career technical programs, told The Daily Standard that there is no official, policy driven method to determine whether a class should be cut or not.

  Coldwater board members said it was an eye-opener when they reviewed a 2006 competency assessment summary of the program provided by Tri Star employee Julie Schosker. Schosker originally presented that same report at the June 6 Superintendents meeting.

  The board members said they were concerned about the low expectations of some of the following competency tests:

   Ag mechanics: Test available but not required. The instructor chose not to administer the test.

   Construction: The state benchmark score needed to pass was 67 percent, with the Tri Star class averaging 63.49 percent and only 6 of 14 students passed.

   E-Commerce: No test created.

   Graphics: The state benchmark score needed to pass was 61 percent but the Tri Star class average was 40.69 percent and no student passed.

   Engineering Technology (CAD): The state benchmark score needed to pass was 48 percent, with the Tri Star class averaging 63.33 percent. All 16 students passed.

   Machine Trades: The state benchmark score needed to pass was 61 percent, with the Tri Star class averaging 76.67 percent. All 6 students passed

  The state, according to Buschur, is inconsistent in its analysis of Ohio career technical classes, as some programs in Tri Star are mandated to test, while others are not.

  State tests for some programs are so old that they are no longer applicable, while other courses, such as Med Prep, don't even have a test prepared.

  Buschur also said the state has no plans or the necessary finances to update or procure further competency tests for the Tri Star Programs.

  Seas and the board members also were concerned about the low scores needed to pass. In addition the job placement summary had many negative results.

  For example, board members learned the following from a one-year follow-up to 2005 Tri Star graduates:

   Electronics: No students are attending college in a related major and only one of six students is employed in a related occupation.

   Graphics: No students are attending college in a related major and only one of eight students is employed in a related occupation.

   Construction: -- One student is attending college in a related major and only two of 12 students are employed in a related occupation.

  Board members were pleased with the machine trade graduates, where all eight students in the survey are employed in a related occupation and with welding graduates, where 10 of the 13 students are employed in a related occupation.

  Seas and board members believe such results should be used when deciding whether to drop or continue programs.

  Board member Jerry Meyer asked if the results should "drive some of the decisions on curriculum," to which Seas said he "hopes so."

  "Let's look and see what our student needs are and build around (them) based on national measures," Riel said. "I would want to continue to look at what they need to be successful. If ( the course is) carpentry, how many of our kids are getting jobs?"

  "In the past there (has been) no set policy," Buschur told the Daily Standard.

  But Tri Star officials are trying to establish guidelines based on a three- to five-year average, based on both attendance and success, of each program, he said.

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