Students offer ideas to improve Youngstown academics
By HAROLD GWIN
Although they offered some healthy criticisms, some students also offered concrete suggestions on how to improve the city school district’s academic performance.
ACT and OGT preparation classes, a high-quality and rigorous curriculum and a transition plan from eighth to ninth grade are just some of the suggestions by East High School seniors.
Four groups of senior students gave research presentations to the state’s Academic Distress Commission at the high school Monday, outlining what they see as reasons for why Youngstown is rated in academic emergency on its state local report card.
The commission was appointed to help Youngstown draft an academic-recovery plan to improve student test scores and raise that report-card rating.
The students not only pointed out problem areas but also offered potential solutions.
Teacher expectations play a major role in student achievement, said student Brandon Mosley. Teachers should have high expectations for all students, not just those they expect to succeed, he said.
Students need to be encouraged to have high expectations of themselves and step up to the challenges, offered student Shardae Rue.
The expectations of both students and teachers should be high, said student Ashley Macklin.
A high-quality curriculum that pushes all students to their limits is essential, said student Alisha Johnson.
The information was “very insightful,” said Debra Mettee, commission chairman. It will be helpful as the commission drafts a recovery plan, she said, noting she particularly was impressed by the suggestion that a transition plan be developed for students leaving eighth grade and entering high school.
Commission member Kathie Garcia said she appreciates the students’ honesty in their reports, even if it meant saying some things that were difficult to hear.
The team of Alteeka Vanwright, Cierra Sterbian, Kirk Davis and Antony Mitchell proposed that eighth- and ninth-grade teachers create a transition plan for incoming ninth-graders.
Of the 400 students in their freshmen class, only 190 are seniors today, they told the commission. The others dropped out or left school in some other fashion, they said.
The district also should create a freshman adviser board and create open lines of communication and peer mediation, they said.
The team of Keyonna Church, Geralysse Cruz, Briana Dawson and Jazzmine Hall proposed offering an ACT prep class to help students improve their chances of scoring higher on the college admission test. The rigor of the curriculum needs to increase, they said.
The team of Jazzmen Holloway, Lestacia Scott, Breona Layton and Sharonda Daniels suggested that school principals need to take a more-active role in their students’ education and are concerned that some teachers may be “dumbing down” their course requirements so that more students will pass.
Teachers need to make their classrooms more interesting and be tougher about such things as paper or project “due dates.” An Ohio Graduation Test prep program also would be helpful, they said.