By Holly Osmer
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter
BATH — Bath High School has a graduation rate of 87 percent with about 70 percent of those graduates moving on to college, according to Bath High School Principal Matt Dodson. When looking at post-high school life, there are a few options students can look into.
If they obtained adequate American College Testing (ACT) scores and were able to earn a sufficient grade-point average (GPA), their first choice may be to attend a college or university, but it takes more than good scores to be prepared for the collegiate environment.
“We have a state-approved computer science program and our computer science courses are articulated with Lansing Community College (LCC), so our students get college credit for their high school courses,” said Dodson. “We also run a media production course.”
“All of the CTE (Career and Technical Education) classes and Automated Accounting are articulated to LCC,” said Bath Computer Teacher Gloria Bond. “That means that students who take these classes as a junior or senior and earn an 80 percent get credit for the classes at LCC. No AP test required.”
With classes averaging about 26 students, Bath High School is considered to be a relatively small school.
Dodson also stated that Bath’s 2015 composite ACT score was 20.5. According to the Michigan Department of Education, this is 0.6 points above Michigan’s average composite score of 19.9 and just 0.7 points below the national average of 21.2.
“We were found to be a reward school for high progress,” said Dodson. “This means our state testing proficiency went up significantly.”
Although Bath is a small school, their numbers in no way limit their facilities or ability to educate.
“I like to think that Bath is very technological,” said Bond. “Our students were one of the first schools to adopt Google Docs. Teachers use Moodle, Google Classroom and Schoolology in their classes. We use PowerSchool to do our grades.”
“I taught Computer Animation this year, too,” said Bond. “We use Blender to create 3 dimensional animations. The students really like this class.”
Technology can advance established teaching practices as well as disrupt them, leading to new practices, according to MSU College of Education Assistant Professor Christine Greenhow.
“Bath has acquired several sets of chrome books, so that some of our classrooms have their own labs,” said Bond. “Most of our classes involve technology in some way. For instance, just this week, I had to tell the Biology teacher that several of my animation students were capable of doing their DNA models in Blender.”
“When technology is integrated into teaching it can help teachers enact their objectives or vision for teaching,” said Greenhow. “However, technology can also introduce unexpected elements, such as making students more independent, and in doing so, help the teacher shift her practice in unexpected ways.”
According to Dodson, Bath High School’s biggest strength is it has a small community feel, while still being able to offer anything academically that a big school can.
Bath High School also provides a wide range of about 23 Advanced Placement (AP) classes, including AP Calculus, AP Science, AP Physics, AP World Languages, AP French, AP Spanish, AP Electives, AP Art History, AP Computer Science, and AP Biology.
“Last year we achieved a Career and Technical Education program in Systems Networking and Telecommunications,” said Bond. “That means we teach Python Programming, Visual Basic Programming, Web Design and Advanced Web Design and Networking as a program.
“Included in the program is the Cisco Net Academy course IT Essentials,” said Bond. “We were approved as a CTE program by the state of Michigan and we are now in the first full year of the program.”
Along with providing honor and AP classes, Bath also offers academic clubs like Environmental Club, Quizbowl, Mathematic Lab, Grammar Lab, and Performing Arts.
According to the Census Bureau, some of the top occupations for people with a Bachelor’s Degree are computer workers, mathematicians and statisticians, engineers and life, physical and social scientists.
The common denominator in these emerging and expanding career markets is the demand for technology competence. At least half of the listed jobs for post-college students required moderate to extensive computer skills. This is an area Bath High School has well-covered.
“This year, I also have Microsoft Imagine Academy classes, called Computer Applications, where students study at their own pace to become Microsoft Office Specialist certified in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Expert levels,” said Bond. “This is a great opportunity for our students to be ‘real world’ certified to prove they know their stuff. The Microsoft classes are new this year but we have many students earning their certifications.”
“If [learning computer science] was more prevalent when I was in high school, I would have taken a class,” said University of Michigan Computer Science student Jake Gerstler. “I could have taken AP Computer Science my senior year, but I was taking four other AP classes. Looking back, I should have, but I didn’t have a teacher that could have taught it.”
Bath’s availability of technology education can give students the opportunity to learn a growing field that they might not have thought to explore until later in life.
“There was no taught class where I went to high school,” said Gerstler. “The best option for me would have been to become the first student at my high school to take a computer science class, but I didn’t think that was a viable option. I was wrong, but unfortunately no body at the school knew anything about it.”
Public schools are required to keep up with technology changes for students preparing to enter today’s rapidly evolving and emerging job markets. Bath High School is no exception to these requirements, but with media and technology programs alongside its variety of other classes, these requirements do not seem to be an issue.
According to Greenhow, schools are integrating a variety of technologies, especially laptops, the internet, and portable devices like iPads for their education process.
“Many classes that aren’t ‘tech classes’ use technology, especially the internet because it is such a vast repository for resources and for connection,” said Greenhow.
“The first year I was at Bath, they had just built three labs, two I taught in and the third was for the teachers to ‘check out’ for their classes,” said Bond. “I am happy to say that Bath has progressed along in its technology classes through the years.”
Dobson’s goal in bettering Bath High School is improving student achievement and perception of the district. If Bath maintains the track it’s on, this goal appears achievable for the district.
According to StartClass, Bath High School’s ‘Smart Rating’ (a score based on college entrance exam scores, state assessment scores, and class size) is 85. This is significantly higher than the average rating of 61 for Michigan high schools.
“We are small, but we care,” said Bond