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West Virginian Students Cross State Borders Take STEM Classes in Ohio

Michael Nutter

March 22, 2018

As shifts in the job market attract more students to STEM courses, those with limited options at home are commuting to out-of-state secondary schools to get more credits in science and math. For administrators tracking student data, this can create a logistical nightmare.

Secondary schools with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are thriving globally. Offering challenging curricula streamlined for students interested in math- and science-related careers, these schools help place students with limited resources on a fast-track to college.

Ohio offers some of the best programs in the nation, including the new Tri-State STEM+M in Lawrence County, an early college high school offering a special focus on medicine. Expectations at Tri-State are high — students are required to participate in job shadowing and internship programs while excelling in rigorous coursework.

They’re also expected to complete normal high school coursework by the end of their second year, and begin taking college or college-level courses in their third year. Students commonly graduate with up to 60 hours in college credit.

However, students in other states interested in STEM aren’t quite so fortunate. According to the West Virginia Department of Education, a number of West Virginia schools offer STEM programs, but there are currently no STEM-dedicated schools in the state.

For this reason, students in West Virginia interested in pursuing more comprehensive STEM education must seek other options — this often means crossing state lines to take classes at schools in Ohio. But because commuter students still belong to their districts at home, administrators face the challenge of sorting out exactly how many students are members of their district, and how many are coming from out-of-state.

Roadblocks to Supporting Out-of-State Students

District administrators in Ohio are required to collect, review, and analyze information about students in their district through EMIS, covering everything from demographics to academic performance to the amount of time each student spends at different facilities throughout the day.

This last metric can prove especially tricky for administrators working with commuter students or students in special part-time programs, who may spend some time in their home district and some time in another. Gathering accurate data on such students can require hours of liasing with administrators across district lines whose practices and systems may vary significantly.

These logistical problems are more than just an inconvenience — they can potentially cost districts many thousands of dollars in state funding. Districts that mistakenly under-report enrollment or the percentage of time each student spends on his or her home campus may receive less funding than they’re really entitled to. Even worse, over-reporting can result in professional consequences for district Treasurers and Superintendents.

Paving the Way for Accurate Reporting

This is precisely the kind of problem that the new Percent of Time module for our CheckPoint EMIS platform was designed to solve. The module offers administrators a unified platform on which all student scheduling can be proactively recorded and monitored.

It’s an intuitive way for administrators to chart the time spent by individual students at different locations, making it easy to run them against the scheduled agreements with outside facilities like STEM schools. The module makes it easy to identify when there may be something wrong about reported data through its Errors & Warnings feature, which flags data that is contradictory or incomplete.

Paired with CheckPoint’s existing functionalities, the new Percent of Time module will help Ohio districts and secondary schools welcome out-of-state students with full confidence that they’ll get the funding they need to support those students.

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