Ohio overhauls education with eye on college prep

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A state education overhaul aimed at better preparing Ohio students for college will change the way children and schools are evaluated and the curriculum they use.

Students should be getting "a diploma worth owning," but the existing system shortchanges children by asking them to meet minimum standards that don't necessarily make them college-ready, state Superintendent Stan Heffner said.

Gov. John Kasich and other state leaders want to change that through an overhaul that's under way and is expected to be finished in several years, and they recognize it could be a bumpy transition, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/wP4WYa ) reported Sunday.

"We live in a culture where every kid gets a trophy regardless of whether they kick it into the goal or not," Kasich said. "And then the kid goes out and gets a job, and then he goes home and says, 'Mom, I thought I was an A, and the supervisor keeps yelling at me and says I'm not any good.' There (needs to be) a balance."

Ohio already adopted tougher standards on what students should learn, embracing the use of more nonfiction materials and making it likely students will learn certain concepts in-depth in one year and build on those in later years.

The state also is part of a group of states creating new computer-based exams to replace standardized testing that measures how much students have learned.

Next up, Ohio is changing how it grades schools on their performance. Many districts are expected to get lower ratings under the evaluation system slated to start next school year, Heffner said. It will grade schools and districts using a calculation based on factors such as graduation rates, students' scores on state tests and the performance of certain categories of students, including those with disabilities and those considered economically disadvantaged.

"Parents won't see as many A's," Heffner said. "This is a far more-rigorous system."

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com