DELTA - Pike-Delta-York Local school leaders hope they've found a smart way to keep bright teens in Delta High School classrooms.
New this school year are four classes, taught by Delta High School teachers, that will give students college credits from the University of Findlay - without having to drive there - as well as high school credits.
Students can choose from introduction level calculus, physics, writing, and psychology, all of which students and teachers say are significantly different from classes that are for high school credit only.
"It's a much faster pace," said Mary Kathryn Currier, who is teaching English Composition 104 - a requirement for freshmen at University of Findlay - to a dozen students at Delta. "I have much higher expectations of them. They're graded harder. Even their behavior and attitude in there is different. I'm expecting them to behave as a college student and not as a senior having senioritis. And they know that."
Holly Magnan, 17, a senior who is in the English and psychology college classes, said she's spending more time with them than she is with high school chemistry. Among the differences: She's checking her spelling more carefully after hearing that mistakes that might be overlooked on high school papers would be frowned upon for the college classes.
Teens are billed $100 per class, which they would not have to pay if they went to a college campus for the classes. For about 15 years, Ohio has allowed high school students to take college classes for both high school and college credit at taxpayer expense.
But Delta is a significant distance from all of the institutions where its students typically take a few college classes, and almost all would spend far more than $100 a term in mileage driving to those campuses. Most popular are Northwest State Community College, University of Toledo, Lourdes College, and Owens Community College.
School leaders said they worried about teens who take a few classes at the high school and a couple more at a college campus being on the road so much.
Nor did they like how much time that transportation was taking out of some teens' days. Depending which campus they choose - and what time of day their courses are offered - they would need to allow about an hour to drive from the high school to campus, park, and walk to a lecture hall.
Also, school administrators didn't like what the trend of high school students going to college was doing to the local school district's bottom line. When students spend part of their days on college campuses, their local district can't claim all of the state aid it would otherwise get, Pike-Delta-York Superintendent Robin Rayfield said.
That state aid amounts to about $5,700 per student at P-D-Y. But if a student is taking two college classes and two or three classes at the high school, the local district can claim only about half of those funds because it has that student for about half a day only.
So even though University of Findlay charges the high school $250 per student, per course - and the high school recoups only $100 of that from the students - the district still comes out ahead financially by keeping students at its buildings all day.
Last school year about 20 students left for at least part of the day to take college classes. This year that number has dropped to six or seven, which Delta High School Principal Randy Lintermoot said is a direct response to the high school's new college-course offerings.
Megan Swartz, 17, a senior, who is in the school's college English, said she would have gone to Owens or Lourdes for such a class if the high school had not offered it. And she's pleased with the high school's version, which calls for students to practice writing college-entrance and scholarship-application essays and seems much more immediately useful than most high school classes. Most helpful to her, she said, was the guidance she's gleaned on how to organize her thoughts - even before she starts writing - to answer very broad essay questions with a few key points.
Although it's a high school teacher, Ms. Currier, who's delivering those lectures, Megan's final exam will be written and graded by University of Findlay faculty. Over the summer, such faculty taught her and teachers from numerous other northwest Ohio high schools that are offering similar programs.
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