By Valerie Christopher
HARRISON - As the school year draws to an end, a bold experiment at a tiny Christian school here has convinced its principal to make it a permanent fixture.
Christ Centered School discovered an alternative to teachers for some of its small classrooms last fall when it placed 11 of its 79 students on a computer-based curriculum. Christ Centered is one of two non-public schools in Ohio and 21 in the United States to use fully computerized lesson plans.
"It takes roughly 10 to 12 students per classroom to pay an average teacher's compensation," said Jerry Goodbar, the principal. "With only 11 students representing the entire fourth through ninth grade (at Christ Centered), this was a great opportunity for students to work on their core subjects and be tested and graded by the computer. It's like a big old lesson plan, except they're getting it from a computer."
Goodbar was referring to Switched-On Schoolhouse Network, a software program designed by Alpha Omega Publications (AOP). The Chandler, Ariz.-based company has been a provider of Christian education material since 1977.
AOP provides Christian schools with curricula from three different programs:
Horizons, for the conventional classroom teacher looking for a workbook-style curriculum.
Switched-On Schoolhouse, a 3-12 grade level CD-Rom providing a combination of traditional learning and computerized education.
Lifepac, a complete work text format curriculum for students in grades K-12.
Eighth-grader Jonathon Hodge, 15, who has attended public schools and been home-schooled in the past, said his second year at Christ Centered has been "heaven."
Get information about Alpha Omega Publications at www.aop.com.
"I never liked listening to teachers lecture a long time and this system enables me to work ahead and not have to let others slow me down."
Jonathon finished eighth-grade level work in April and is now working on ninth-grade math, history, science and language arts.
The system has changed the face of learning for students and faculty. "Before Switched-On Schoolhouse, I would have as much homework as the kids," said Tom Brane, who is in his second year teaching at Christ Centered. "With this curriculum, I don't have to worry about being too busy to go around and help.''
Goodbar said diagnostic testing takes place at the beginning and end of the school year to determine grade levels for each student.
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