By Sue Botos
Once again, parents, teachers and coaches filled the room for the March 8 school board committee of the whole session. Some came with prepared statements, anticipating another lengthy debate about flex credit and the proposed fitness waiver. What they got was as surprising as the power failure due to a windstorm.
Due to unforeseen changes in state regulations, Assistant Superintendent Elizabeth Anderson announced that interscholastic sports count as part of the credit flex program. As a result, the board is expected to withdraw legislation which would have made student athletes eligible to waive PE classes.
“Heretofore, credit flex applications for fitness did not include interscholastic athletics,” said Anderson, recalling the process by administrators and the board, which began several years ago, to ease the scheduling burden of fitting in physical education classes.
“During the process, I learned my understanding was incorrect,” Anderson continued, noting that at some point, the state board of education reversed its decision, and included interscholastic sports as an option for flex credit.
A look at the state board website reveals detailed information about setting up flex credit, which can be used for any course as long as the student provides a detailed plan and meets required outcomes. The site also describes the fitness waiver criteria, which state a student must compete in two seasons of a sport to be exempt from PE classes.
However, it is unclear on the subject of using interscholastic sports as part of a flex credit plan.
“We are now going to work on designing a credit flex application for fitness,” Anderson stated. “We are going to make it more user friendly, but we’re not going to do the work for them (students), she added.
Credit flex, which was approved by the Ohio General Assembly in 2006 and has been available to Rocky River High School students since 2009, allows students to study a subject independently, providing a set criteria for understanding and evaluation are met.
Anderson said activities can be recorded in various ways, such as journaling or video. For fitness, she said various skills need to be demonstrated. “One activity won’t cut the mustard,” she said.
Each student must develop his or her own plan with goals and methods for meeting those goals, according to Anderson. These exercises can be anything from bike riding to weight lifting to playing on a team.
“Within one application, there can be a conglomeration of activities,” she said.
She added activities such as marching band and cheerleading can be included in fitness flex credit as long as “evidence of knowledge” of the standards are shown.
In addition to state standards, Anderson recommended three “points of interest to be added to the fitness credit flex: a record of hours spent on outside activities, swimming competence and knowledge of strength training. “These are all lifetime activities. How can we fit them into the credit flex?”
Anderson added some consulting with the state board would take place to add on these extras, but above all, the option must remain flexible and allow students to demonstrate standards in their own way.