W-M opts for pass/fail foreign language learning


December 17, 2019

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

AT MONDAY evening's Wakefield Marenisco Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Jason Gustafson, right, shares a light moment with members while board President Brad Dalbec looks on.


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Wakefield - The Wakefield-Marenisco Board of Education voted Monday night to begin a pass / fail system for foreign language courses, which the curriculum now requires as part of state requirements.

The unanimous vote followed an appeal by guidance counselor Mark Lane, who also leads online education at the Wakefield-Marenisco K-12 School in Wakefield.

Lane explained that foreign language courses are available only through the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute, and students find the program "difficult."

While referring to 22 eighth graders now taking Spanish I online, Lane said, "Out of those 22, I feel pretty confident that six will make it through with a passing grade."

He added that he regards the course as high-school level and said students also must contend with the fact that the current semester ends about a month before the virtual program. The conflict in timing means that students must accelerate their pace that much more in order to complete program objectives.

"Low grades could cause problems on school records." said Lane, who suggested that a pass / fail system is "probably the best" solution.

Superintendent Jason Gustafson agreed, adding that even top students struggle with the current situation.

Gustafson said former students used to engage in online learning through Odysseyware Academy, which was "much cheaper and easier," but not as effective.

The superintendent concluded that the matter of foreign language learning might soon be moot because the state of Michigan "is talking about throwing out the foreign language requirement."

He said a related decision might occur as soon as January.

In other news, board members:

-Voted to support an updated emergency operations plan that will apply to a multitude of emergency situations, ranging from medical to weather to crime.

-Heard from Gustafson that the school will need to replace or repair parts of the school's boilers at an estimated cost of $18,240. The work is tentatively planned for next summer.

-Voted to accept a board meeting schedule for 2020.

-Voted to agree to this semester's early graduation of Alex Sheehan, who then will begin a career in the U.S. service.

-Heard board secretary Stacie Rooni praise music director Isaac Boehnlein on a good Christmas program.

The school's fall semester will end Friday, and school will start again on Jan. 5, 2020.

The next regular board meeting will be on Jan. 20 of the new year at 5 p.m. in the school's first-floor board room.


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