Originally created 09/25/01

Parent questions senior project work



Marc Balcer doesn't want his daughter - a senior at Lakeside High School - used as a guinea pig.

But that's exactly what he feels is happening because the school board has instituted a policy this year that requires seniors to complete a senior project - something akin to a master's thesis.

The problem, Mr. Balcer said, is that students are already working on the projects before they know how much they will count toward their final grade.

Columbia County school board Trustee Wayne Bridges has asked school officials to provide an update on senior projects and report back to the board today.

In the spring, the Columbia County board adopted a policy requiring seniors - from special education students to advanced placement students - to develop and present a paper on a topic. The program began this year at all four Columbia County high schools.

The plan for the senior project came from a committee study on performance-based assessment, which "requires students to apply the knowledge they are learning," Associate Superintendent of Instruction Jonnie Ghetti said.

"Currently in curriculum is a requirement that they do a comprehensive research project, but this takes it to a higher level," school Superintendent Tommy Price said when the board approved the policy.

There are four components of the senior project:

Selecting a research topic, approved by a senior project coordinator

A "physical component" pairing students with a faculty adviser and community mentor to provide first-hand experience with the topic selected

A portfolio that includes their work over the year, the senior project paper and the results of their physical project

A presentation to an outside board.

"They must demonstrate an understanding of their chosen topic," Mr. Price said.

Evans High School already had required its students to complete senior projects.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or melhall@augustachronicle.com.