To be put in place next year, the new flex credit system will allow students to test out of classesBy Noah Grumman
Six days a week, from November until February, sophomore Ben Mastruserio heads off to swim practice, often at 5:30 a.m. followed by a three hour after-school session. Swimming is arguably one of the toughest and most time-consuming sports, yet Mastruserio is still required to take physical education.
However, this will change next school year with the new flex-credit system, which will allow students different ways to earn high school credits. With the new state-wide system, some sports, music groups, and internships could be counted for credit, making it much easier for athletes like Mastruserio to get credit for phys. ed. for his involvement in sports.
According to principal Kip Greenhill, the flex credit system will give students two alternate ways to earn high school credit. In addition to the option of merely taking the class, another way will be to show proficiency by testing out of the class. A final way to earn credit will be through an “educational option,” which will allow students to earn credits through internships, music groups and athletic groups.
“We may have students take tests to say, ‘I’m a pretty good speaker.’ And they’ll show proficiency in Public Speaking [to avoid taking] the class,” Greenhill said.
To earn phys. ed. credits, as in Mastruserio’s case, students will be able to either test out of the class or take part in an athletic team—an “educational option,” where they may have to write an essay to recap their physical education experience, Greenhill said.
“What you’ll probably have to do is write a reflection piece. So, if you’re a cross country runner, you’ll have to write about [things like] your training, warm-ups, nutrition … What you have gotten out of cross country,” Greenhill said. “You’ll probably have to put that together in a two- or three-page essay, and you’ll get credit for it.”
Another benefit of the flex credit program will be that students can earn credit for classes not offered at the high school, Greenhill said.
“If you spoke Italian, you might take a proficiency test in [it],” Greenhill said. “Even though we don’t offer Italian, you could get credit for it.”
Not every aspect of the program is new. For example, it is currently possible for students to test out of or skip some classes. Before the current school year, freshman Ben Kompa took an online course to skip Global History, covered the Freshman Literature and Composition curriculum during a special class in eighth grade, skipped Physical Science, and tested out of Spanish II. This freed his schedule to take some sophomore classes, like AP American Studies, as a freshman.
However, implementing the flex credit system will make skipping and testing out of classes, as Kompa did, much easier. In addition to creating a standard system for testing out of classes, the flex credit system will allow students to earn credit for testing out. Since Kompa tested out of his classes before the flex credit system was put in place, he did not earn credit for the classes he skipped.
One worry for some, especially teachers, may be that the system will make it too easy for students to earn credits and get through high school, Greenhill said.
“Students could lose that personal contact sometimes. And there could be small holes [in knowledge],” Math teacher Amy Oxley said. “You might be able to do well enough to pass the test but that doesn’t necessarily mean you would know all of the little ins and outs [of a course].”
Teachers may have another worry, according to Greenhill.
“Quite frankly,” Greenhill said, “a lot of them are going to be worried about jobs.”
Q & A
How do you feel about taking gym class and playing sports?
“It’s not a question of being healthy or understanding how to stay healthy, because you learn more by playing a sport. [Instead of gym class] you could fit in another class that you may want to take.”
“I hate it. I feel like it’s a waste of time because I run cross country and track. On a given day, sometimes I’ll be running eight miles after school [and still have to take gym].”