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TMCNet:  School board mulls mandatory computer course

[January 30, 2013]

School board mulls mandatory computer course

Jan 29, 2013 (The Sedalia Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The need for basic computer skills and software knowledge by the time students reach their junior year prompted the Sedalia 200 district's Business and Marketing Education instruction team to propose making Computer Applications I a required course.

That pitch was made during Monday night's school board meeting, as members of the board of education heard an evaluation of the business and marking program.

Discussing Computer Applications I, Smith-Cotton High School business teacher Katie Ellis told the board that "some of the skills that are taught in this class are crucial to student success in high school and whatever they choose to do. ... What we are finding is some of our students are struggling and they are graduating with just basic keyboarding skills." Marketing teacher Amanda Mills said a basic keyboarding class is taught at Sedalia Middle School, but "currently there is nothing that requires (students) to take a computer class after the sixth-grade keyboarding class." Mills said Computer Applications I is encouraged at the freshman level and the business education team believes students should not take it earlier because they might not retain the information until they get to the high school, where higher-level computing courses are offered.

Board member Stephanie Lefevers asked if the teachers had consulted with counselors about the impact the proposal would have on freshmen.

"With so many required courses (at the freshman level), would it create problems" in scheduling Lefevers asked.

Mills said she did not foresee any difficulties, but added that the course would still need to be available at the high school for transfers and those students who could not work it into their freshman schedule.

Ellis said there needs to be "more focus on Word, Excel and PowerPoint so students are better prepared for the working world." Business teacher Holli Goodrich told the board: "I have encountered students who don't know how to make a folder," or how to save data to a flash drive.

"You kind of expect students in high school to know how to do that." Board President Dr. Jeff Sharp wasn't sold on making the class a requirement.

"I know your argument is very good ... but we only have 28 credits available. We used to have 32," he said. "If you make this a requirement, that is one less elective a lot of students can have. If you have a student who is skilled, I guess I have a problem with making it a requirement." Board member Michael Stees countered that unless students are required to take the computing class, they likely won't and won't realize until it is too late that they needed it to secure employment.

"If you have band, and a required P.E. class, I suspect it is hard to fit it all in," Sharp said. "But that is for counselors and administrators to figure out. We're not going to vote on this being a requirement tonight." The board did unanimously approve the business and marketing education program evaluation, as well as an evaluation of the engineering and technology education program.

Also during Monday's meeting, the board: --Discussed changing the March 25 regular board meeting to a combined work session and meeting on March 18 to allow administrators and board members to attend an "Accredited with Distinction" banquet in Warrensburg.

--Approved changes to the 2013-14 Education and Career Planning Guide, the course directory that students use to map out their high school classes. High school principal Steve Triplett said with the board's approval, the guide would go to the printer today.

___ (c)2013 The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Mo.) Visit The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Mo.) at www.sedaliademocrat.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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