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­Toronto schools changing academic standards

March 2, 2013
Weirton Daily Times

TORONTO - The city school district is changing its academic standards to help make it easier for city high school graduates to get into college.

The changes in the standards also will include a more aggressive curriculum for students before being able to be given school district honors, according to Maureen Taggart, Toronto High School principal and district communications coordinator.

"We needed to evaluate the curriculum at the high school and increase the rigor," said Taggart, adding the curriculum improvement will be in two stages beginning next school year. "We are establishing new eligibility standards for the (senior) top 10, valedictorian and salutatorian. We are phasing those eligibility requirements in."

Taggart said beginning in 2014, to be eligible for the top 10 a student must complete at least one class of advanced science - either chemistry, physics or anatomy - and successfully complete at least one class in a foreign language.

"These changes will be noted in students' handbooks for the next school year," said Taggart. "The standards will continue to increase as time goes on."

Beginning with this school year's freshmen, Taggart said students must participate in a scholars or honors program to be eligible for the senior top 10, valedictorian and salutatorian.

"The scholars program is going to focus on college readiness," said Taggart. "(Students will be required to take) the most rigorous and advanced courses in English, math, science and social studies."

By 2017, seniors also will have to take two years of a foreign language as well to be eligible for the top 10, valedictorian and salutatorian, Taggart continued.

"We're also going to have an honors program," said Taggart. "This program will meet the standards for an honors diploma in Ohio. (For the honors diploma) a student must have at least a 3.5 grade-point average or an ACT composite score of 27 or better."

The honors program will require that students take classes in chemistry I and physics, as well as taking additional classes in social studies and a foreign language, said Taggart. Students will receive an honors diploma along with it being noted on their grade transcript if they are successful, Taggart added.

"We've developed this four-year program for (students') ability to be an honors graduate and for college readiness," Taggart said. "It will help them enroll in a four-year college."

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