Some students are fretting over the second round of the controversial "PARCC" state standard tests that are getting underway.
The first round was back in February and March, the so-called "Performance-Based Assesments" with longer answers.
"They really had to utilize their problem solving skills," Aimee Kirsch with Akron Public Schools tells WAKR.net, "to write out their thinking about how they would solve a problem in the area of reading or math."
This time, Kirsch says the "End of Course" exams are closer to traditional tests.
But she says "PARCC" testing overall is much more rigorous than what students did in the past.
"A lot of that's because they're really calling on our students to utilize higher levels of thinking, having them really solve problems," Kirsch says, "and not only be able solve them, but describe how they are solving the problems."
Kirsch says the actual test taking is more flexible for students.
"They can take it more by themselves or in a small group setting," Kirsch says. "We're also able to allow our students to take breaks throughout the testing, so they don't have to sit there for the entire hour or two hours that the test requires."
The final results this year will combine results from both testing rounds.
Mrs. Traci Buckner, Director of Special Programs at Akron Public Schools, joins Ray to talk about Akron Public School's Stem School. Buckner explains that they started with young kids to get them hooked before they decided that they didn't like certain subjects. She tells Ray that there are many kids involved in this program. Buckner tells Ray how parents sign their kids up and how kids are selected randomly so that every child has an opportunity. Buckner explains the problem based learning curriculum to Ray.
The Stem School teaches children many skills such as critical thinking and other 21st century skills. She says that the learning coaches take the kids through the problem and the process step by step. As adults, this is a very critical skill for children to learn. She tells Ray that middle school students obtain high school credits before getting there.
North High School officials were forced to block off entry to the school after a fight broke out Friday afternoon.
The Beacon Journal reports eight girls are now facing suspensions or expulsions after a brawl that started with an argument between two girls. That fight left the principal with a bruised face and a student in the hospital with chest pains.
For about 40 minutes, North High didn't let in anyone, locking all points of entry. The Safe School Watch ended at about 2:10 p.m.
APS officials sent a letter home with students, and will make robocalls to North High families, with information on the incident.
On the web: www.ohio.com
Despite what you may have seen on social media this week, there's no asbestos concern at Akron's Ellet High School.
A picture of crews next to signs and caution tape saying "Danger: Asbestos" has spread quickly online.
But Akron Public Schools environmental services manager Robert Boxler says that was only a precaution because of what crews were actually doing at Ellet.
"We were removing loose ceiling tiles that we didn't want to fall on anybody," Boxler tells WAKR.net. "Because of what they were glued to, we took the extra precaution of calling in the proper personnel."
The process and signs were required by federal law. Boxler says nothing fell, and no asbestos was exposed to workers or anyone else at Ellet High School.
Boxler says when the picture was taken, crews were done working, and the door was open because they were about to leave.
He says constant monitoring is a part of the required procedure, and that the district follows all laws and safety measures.
While much of the focus on school choice centers on charter schools, many students also open enroll to public school districts other than their own.
Dan Rambler of the Akron Public Schools says more than 1,700 students open enroll out from the Akron Public Schools to other districts. He says the district tries to offer other schools within the district as options to avoid having students transfer out. Rambler calls school choice a "powerful tool," but says families don't always know all of their options.
One of the main recipients of transfer students is the Coventry Local Schools. Superintendent Rusty Chaboudy says the district has had open enrollment since 1994, and has nearly 800 open enrollees this year. He points to the school's safety record and Excellence with Distinction rating as reasons why families send their students to his district.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association is investigating the Akron Public Schools as it relates to transfer students and athletic eligibility.
The OSHAA is looking into the volume of eligibility documents from student-athletes across the district.
Ron Linger, the interim athletic director for the APS joined Sam Bourquin in the studio Wednesday to discuss the ongoing issue of students transferring and making sure the district is compliant with the OSHAA.
"It's a difficult process, and you have to have good people in place," said Linger.
"We do have that here in the Akron Public Schools with our seven athletic directors at our high schools, they're going to continue and make sure we get through this process."
The APS is awaiting a decision from the OSHAA, and could face forfeiture of wins and fines if it's determined that student-athletes within the district were ineligible for competition.
He (Linger) says that the APS is working with and complying with the OSHAA to make sure that everything is in order for the district, the schools, and their athletes.
Tom Cousineau joins Ray to talk about helping in Akron Public School's Athletic Department. Cousineau says that Akron is his home and he wants to help the community. He tells Ray that sports are meant to uplift lives and inform kids and he wants to make sure that's exactly what they're doing. Cousineau wants to blow life into the sports programs to help make kids better, well rounded people and to help them become better leaders, friends, and even parents.
Cousineau tells Ray that sports are too focused on winning. When the message is simply to win at all costs, that is not helping the kids grow and mature. Cousineau tells Ray that he really wants to help make a difference.
Superintendent of Akron Public Schools, David James, joins Ray Horner to talk about the OHSAA investigation. James talks about the transfer students having the most problems. If paperwork is not properly filled out, athletic eligibility can be affected. James says that they are trying to work with the Athletic Association to get the situation worked out. James tells Ray how all of this started.
James tells Ray that everything started with a conversation with the General Council and a representative of the Athletic Association. The conversation lead to a discussion about the low number of eligibility requests. Eligibility requests should be higher than they have been with such a mobile district as Akron Public Schools. James also discusses what kinds of moves and transfers may enable a student to be eligible. He also explains that he wants to make sure that students and parents understand the rules and requirements when moving or transferring their children.
Akron Public Schools is moving forward with the plans to switch the district's calendar from days to hours in order to add extra calamity days to the school year.
The Akron School Board passed a resolution last week that would change the current school calendar from "days" to "hours" to align with new state regulations, which sets a minimum number of hours that each grade level is required to complete.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, school districts, joint vocational school districts and chartered nonpublic schools must be open for instruction for a minimum of:
- 455 hours for students in half-day kindergarten;
- 910 hours for students in full-day kindergarten through Grade 6; and
- 1,001 hours for students in Grades 7-12.
But some schools, like Akron Public Schools, are in session for more than the minimum number of hours required. The extra number of hours they're in session -- translates to about 19 snow days for high school students.
Superintendent David James said the calendar switch would add 12 snow days to the calendar for elementary students and 22 days for middle schools. The move would add more flexibility on how the district decides to make up work, including the use of blizzard bag days and online homework.
James says even though they're in good shape so far this year, he'll still consult with teachers to discuss whether or not students have spent enough time in the classroom.
Akron Public School's Superintendent David James joins Ray Horner to talk about his State of Akron Speech. James touches on his thoughts of changing the school calendar to a year-round calendar. He tells Ray a few advantages of changing the calendar for teachers, students and parents. He also talks about Akron Public School's sports programs.
James talks about the idea of bringing Tom Cousineau in to help out with sports programming. He would like to make sure that the coaches have the training that they need and working on character building. James tells Ray that he would like to put a board together to talk about athletic issues and ways to improve.