Concerned over graduation rates, the Ohio Board of Education this week plans to endorse a new set of requirements for high school seniors to earn a diploma.
In the meantime, the board will request an extension of the more lenient graduation rules given to the class of 2018.
Board members met Wednesday, and will meet today, to discuss and vote on a proposal to expand on the current options high school students have to graduate. A statement released by the board to the state’s educators said the options would require students to show proficiency in English, math, and technology; well-rounded content; and in areas of leadership, reasoning, and social-emotional development.
Those requirements could be met through state testing scores, grade point averages, or the completion of research projects, learning through employment, and community service, to name a few options.
The plan was approved through a resolution by the board’s Achievement and Graduation Requirements Committee, and would begin with this academic year’s freshmen, the class of 2022.
While the new requirements are being developed, the state BOE wants to continue offering a set of more amenable graduation requirements that were intended only for the class of 2018. In addition to passing 20 course credits, last year’s seniors had to meet two of nine standards including a 93 percent attendance record, a 2.5 GPA in four full-year courses, completing a capstone project, and completing 120 hours of community service.
Currently, 2019 graduates will be required to meet minimum passing levels in math, English, science, and social studies on state testing. They must also earn “fix-free” scores on their college entrance exam and pass the WorkKeys exam, which measures a student’s skills.
District 1 Senator Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) supports extending the temporary requirements through 2019, and possibly 2020.
“It is my understanding that some other members of the Senate may be of the same mind,” McColley said. “Ultimately, we must come up with permanent standards, even if it means making the temporary standards permanent.”
Ohio BOE President Tess Elshoff did not return calls requesting comment.
Archbold High School Principal Royal Short favors the 2018 graduation requirements, noting that some students simply don’t perform well on tests.
“Last year’s requirements provided students who are not good test takers an opportunity to show they are hard workers. The graduation pathways that incorporated holding down a job and maintaining great attendance are career readiness skills,” he said.
Several of the school district’s seniors have to retake state tests in December to earn enough testing points to graduate. Short said the state makes graduation difficult for students weak in one subject or area by expecting all students to earn the same number of testing points.
He said basing graduation on the successful completion of individual school boards’ adopted graduation requirements could resolve the imbalance.
Wauseon High School Principal Keith Leatherman said the class of 2019 should get the same benefits as seniors did in 2018.
“With regards to the testing requirements for graduation, the class of 2019 is currently being held to a different standard. We are still in a state of transition, and the state is looking to make some additional changes with regards to high stakes testing,” he said.
The school district works closely with students who lack the required points on the End of Course assessments, Leatherman said. The students are being given opportunities to prepare for the testing window in December.
“I want to see all seniors graduate,” he said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.