Draft Ohio education goals would put emotional health, critical reasoning and job skills on par with English and math

Schools shouldn’t be just about test scores in math and English, the state school board says.

They should also be about emotional health, critical reasoning and how to be an “engaged, culturally aware and contributing member of society.”

And they should help prepare students for jobs, as much as they do for college.

After a year of debate with education groups across the state, the board and Ohio Department of Education released late Wednesday a proposed “strategic plan” they hope will guide education decisions for Ohio over the next several years.

It’s won’t bring any immediate changes to classrooms and isn’t even an immediate call for the legislature to approve any changes. But it offers a vision” for what Ohio’s high school graduates should look like, an “overarching goal” to help students reach career success, and calls for several shifts in how the state will approach some tough issues going forward.

Among them: Treating job training as equally valid as going to college, considering technology skills as basic and foundational to success as English and math, and also making the ability to reason critically or have social and emotional skills equal as well.

“Foundational skills” like reading and math are just one quarter of the picture under this plan. Other classes like social studies and science make up another quarter, but the plan elevates two new “domains” of learning to an equal level:

Reasoning: problem-solving, design thinking, creativity, information analytics

Social-Emotional: growth mindset, perseverance, self-awareness, team work, collaboration

“Meeting the needs of the whole child, including the development of social-emotional skills, is essential for preparing students for success in the classroom and to navigate the rapidly changing future of work,” the plan states. “In addition to the academic knowledge and skills necessary to future success, students must be equipped to set goals, show empathy, maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.”

Though representatives of education groups across the state – teachers unions, philanthropy, colleges, job training programs, the Ohio PTA – have all participated in crafting the plan, the board and ODE want public input. It will hold 11 feedback sessions across the state over the rest of this month.

Click here to read more of this story, including the full draft report.