Financial literacy course included for class of 2014

Alyssa Howard | Editor in Chief

The implementation of a Financial Literacy course, which will take the place of ECA-B, is mandated for next year’s incoming class of 2014, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Known as “the ability to read, analyze, manage and communicate about the personal financial conditions that affect material well-being,” financial literacy is being emphasized as part of the state’s focus on a new technological skill set, according to ECA-B and Speech and Debate teacher Melissa Donahue.“This is primarily based upon the changes in the State of Ohio and the introduction of all the 21st century skills that they have to incorporate into our curriculum,” Donahue said.

“[The Financial Literacy course] is basically going to take the place of the sophomore level, ECA-B. Starting next year, ECA-A will become ECA in general.”

Donahue said that she is currently working with other teachers in the department to consolidate the A and B sections into a course that maintains exposure to the same skills as the two courses traditionally have.

“We are looking at taking some of the current ECA-B presentations and putting them back in ECA-A,” Donahue said. “The hard part is figuring out what to do with two classes that you have to make into one. You’re not going to be able to put all the presentations into it. So, myself, along with the other speech teachers for ECA, we’ve been meeting during curriculum time and department meetings and [we figured out] what this new ECA is going to look like.”

Although the classes are similar in the skills emphasized, Donahue said the process of creating one ECA class has been complicated by the differences in level between the freshman and sophomore year components.

“ECA-B is a class that builds upon the foundational skills; that’s really what it boils down to,” Donahue said. “You learn the basic foundation during ECA-A. You learn all of the basics of giving a presentation….And then going into ECA-B, we talk about that as more of an applications course. We apply what the students already know with ECA-A, and we go on to bigger and better things with it. That’s where we get into the elaborate ad campaign; we do a full-fledged policy debate.”

Beyond the distinct objectives of the classes, the different academic levels of freshman and sophomore years must also be considered, according to Donahue. As a result of these discrepancies, Donahue said she’s worried that some of the more application-oriented skills will not be able to be included in the new ECA class.

“There’s that progression from freshman year to sophomore year, too, which is important,” Donahue said. “You can’t expect everything in ECA-B to happen on a foundational level. I’m afraid that some of those important skills are going to be lost or will slip through the cracks.”

Among the skills that students glean from ECA-B, Donahue said that she emphasizes the group element of the course as a primary teaching tool.

“I think [students] really take away collaboration skills, working with others, being a team player, being able to pitch in and collaborate on projects to get the job done,” Donahue said. “We’re teaching them that they have to find that balance; not everyone might have the same skills that they have or might not have the same work ethic. It’s figuring out how to work with others in order to make that happen. That’s easily going to happen at the college level as well as at the workplace someday. You have to be able to work with others. You have to be able to communicate with not only your superiors, but other coworkers.”

As the ECA courses are merged, Donahue said she laments the inability of the course to include all of the enriching components of ECA-B.

“Hopefully, [with the new ECA curriculum] we can at least touch on all the different elements that we had before,” Donahue said. “I just don’t think we’re going to be able to go into as much depth with it as we were in ECA-B, which to some students, that’s okay. But, I think it could potentially do a disservice to students in some regard.”

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