Students at Springfield’s Global Impact STEM Academy will soon have college-level curriculum prepared by Ohio State University faculty integrated into their problem-based learning model, giving them a leg up when it comes to college readiness.
The school is one of 10 K-12 schools in the state that partnered with OSU and the Ohio STEM Learning Network on the “College Ready Ohio” initiative to put online college course material into the hands of high school students.
The consortium won a $13.5 million Straight A grant from the Ohio Department of Education to fund the program.
“OSU is getting ready to roll out a lot of their general education courses remotely,” said GISA Director Joshua Jennings. “This gives our students and teachers access to these courses.”
Some of the money from the grant will go towards technology supplies at the K-12 schools. GISA already gives each student access to a computer, so that money will lead to some savings, Jennings said, although he didn’t have an exact figure yet.
“There’s a high level of interest in dual enrollment-College Credit Plus across the state,” said Liv Gjestvang, associate vice president of learning technology at Ohio State in a statement announcing the award. “This grant gives us an opportunity to explore how we can best deliver online college-level courses on a statewide level.”
The long-term goal is to be able to offer full-credit, online college courses to high school students, said Corey Tressler, learning technology manager for OSU’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning.
“We can’t really flip the switch immediately,” he said. “But this gives us a chance to test it out and see what works for students.” The more general education classes a student could complete online while in high school, the more affordable college would be, Tressler said.
In the meantime, teachers at participating high schools will get access to rigorous content they can fold into their lessons.
For example, a high school math teacher would be able to give students supplemental coursework via online calculus courses taught by an OSU professor. Students who are advancing faster than their peers could move ahead to college-level problems at their own pace.
“This allows our students unique access to college coursework as early as junior year,” Jennings said.
GISA will be moving into the former South High School building for the 2015-16 school year thanks to $11.3 million in Straight A funds also awarded this year.
There they will be partnering with Springfield City School District, Clark Shawnee Local School District and the Clark-Shawnee Career Technology Center to create a regional college and career readiness hub.
Jennings said for now, the grant only allows for GISA students and staff to access the OSU material. But having teachers exposed to higher education materials will ultimately have far reaching benefits, he said.
“It’s just another resource to better prepare our students,” Jennings said.