GRANGEVILLE – “I’m here tonight because I have an issue with MVSD’s graduation requirements,” Grangeville High School business and technology instructor, Bruce Wassmuth, told the Mountain View School District 244 board at the Oct. 22 meeting.
Wassmuth went on to explain in 2016-17, the board made the decision to reduce the number of technology/computer courses required for graduation from two to zero.
“Although I was not at that meeting, at the time it was said this change was because students were already receiving this beginning computer and technology instruction in eighth grade, prior to reaching high school,” Wassmuth explained. “I can tell you, that is definitely not the case.”
He said when he does a freshman test on basic knowledge, scores average between zero and 22 percent; at the end of the semester, those test scores rise to the 80s and 90s.
Wassmuth also explained he is worried that – from a quick estimation – about 35 percent of students at GHS are not seeing a computer class prior to graduation.
He said if he doesn’t catch students as freshmen, chances are he will not see them throughout their high school career.
“It’s not just a concern of mine, but other teachers, too,” he said, explaining it’s difficult for teachers to assign a project in math, science or English, and then, on top of teaching that core subject’s lessons, also have to teach how to use spreadsheets, word documents or other basic computer and program knowledge.
“It’s not about filling my classes,” he said, “It’s about the exposure some kids just aren’t getting.”
Wassmuth requested the board look at the issue more in-depth.
“The feedback we had at the time led us to believe the kids had the computer knowledge already and they would choose technology classes for electives,” board chair Lot Smith explained. “Thanks for bringing this data to us. Computer literacy is extremely important in this day and age.”
“I cannot think of one post-high-school experience – college, trade school, the work force – that doesn’t somehow utilize computer skills,” Wassmuth added. “Seeing kids use their thumbs on their phones – that isn’t technology education.”
“I feel we’re wasting resources by not teaching these kids – all the structure for the classes is already here, waiting for them,” he said.
Trustee Mike Dominguez apologized for the decision that was made without direct input from business and technology instructors.
“We were trying to match up to what the state requires,” he said.
Acting superintendent Woody Woodford said there was “no fault; we are just moving ahead.” He said he will discuss the issue with administrators and will report back at the November meeting.