Thursday, July 1, 2004

Kenton joins Scholars initiative



By Karen Gutierrez
Enquirer staff writer

From now on, every eighth-grader in Kenton County will be encouraged to sign up for hard courses in high school.

Doing so will earn them a State Scholars diploma. Kenton is one of five school districts in Kentucky participating in the national State Scholars Initiative.

Two key players spoke with the Enquirer on Wednesday. They are Carolyn Witt Jones, executive director of the Partnership for Kentucky Schools; and Drew Scheberle, interim executive director of the national Center for State Scholars. They explained the program.

How will the State Scholars program work in Kenton?

About 20 businesspeople are talking annually to every eighth-grader in the district. They use anecdotes from the real world to explain why students should take certain courses in high school. Those who do will get a special diploma that signals their readiness for high-tech jobs or college.

How does the Scholars course list differ from what Kenton already requires?

State Scholars must take chemistry, physics, world geography and two years of foreign language. Other criteria already are required for graduation.

Why is such a program necessary?

In Kentucky, half the freshman at public universities must take remedial courses covering information they should have learned in high school. At the same time, businesses are encountering employees who need lots of extra training.

The State Scholars Initiative is a way to enlist students themselves in becoming better prepared. Advice from business owners may have more impact on students than parents or teachers.

Isn't a student's grade point average just as important as the courses he or she takes?

No. Studies show the greatest predictor of success in college is completion of pre-college work in high school, regardless of grades.

Texas was the first Scholars state, (out of 13 currently participating.) How is it going there?

In 1999, 15 percent of Texas seniors earned State Scholars diplomas. Now, 64 percent do.

In 2000, the average SAT score of a Texas Scholar was 966, compared to 864 for students who didn't earn the diploma.

E-mail kgutierrez@enquirer.com




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