Sunday, August 05, 2001

Ockerman considers curriculum

Science, social studies classes may shift grades

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        FLORENCE — A proposed curriculum adjustment at Ockerman Middle School would leave eighth-graders without a year of science instruction.

        Ockerman Principal Mel Carroll said Friday the curriculum shift — which would start this school year — calls for two class periods of science in the seventh grade and two of social studies in the eighth grade. Students now receive one hour of each in both grades.

        Kentucky students are tested in science in grade 7 and in social studies in grade 8.

        “We're trying to align our curriculum as close as we can to the Kentucky "core content,'” Mr. Carroll said. The school council — composed of parents Cheryl Borkowski and Gail Jackson, teachers Richard Ingraham and John Scheper, and Mr. Carroll — will discuss the proposal at 2:45 p.m. Monday at the school, 8300 U.S. 42.

        The Kentucky Department of Education outlines standards of what students should know each year, but under state law, school councils set their own curricula.

        Mr. Carroll's plan has several parents worried that the eighth-graders will be a year behind in science when they are freshmen at Boone County High School in the 2002-2003 school year.

        Jenny Sullivan of Florence, who has a son in the eighth grade this year, calls the idea “ludicrous.” She said the plan is simply for the sake of maintaining the school's test scores.

        Ockerman showed gains on last year's state test, landing it cash from the state.

        The school's 2000 social studies score, 69.6 on a 140-point scale, was its second-highest behind reading. Its science scores, however, were among the school's lowest at 42.9. Kentucky's goal is for schools to reach 100 by 2014.

        Mr. Carroll said the council has been talking about the curriculum change for about a year. He said eighth-graders “will come up short on that year of science,” but added he is working with Boone County High to make sure Ockerman students are not left behind.

        Another parent, Connie Reynolds of Florence, is willing to give it a chance with her eighth-grade son.

        “It's not been tried, to my knowledge,” Mrs. Reynolds said. “I don't think it's the best (solution), but I'm willing to try it.”

        Michael Miller, director of the state Education Department's Division of Curriculum and Development, said arranging science and social studies the way Mr. Carroll proposes is not unheard of in Kentucky, but he could not name any schools that do it.

        Ms. Jackson had not seen Mr. Carroll's plan on paper as of Friday. She worries that eighth-graders eligible for honors science classes at Boone County High might be rejected because eighth-grade results are a major criterion for acceptance.

        “There are a great many bright children at Ockerman Middle, and I hate to see them going backward,” Ms. Jackson said.

        Students at R.A. Jones Middle School in Florence, the other feeder school for Boone County High, receive one hour of science and social studies in both grades.

        Boone County Principal Mike Sander said Ockerman students' seventh-grade science results may have to be considered. Mr. Carroll said he works with the high school “to identify those kids with potential.”

        “No kid will be left behind,” Mr. Carroll said.


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