New graduation requirements leave school with questions

By Beverly Keller
The Budget

To earn a high school diploma in Ohio, you must complete the courses of study required and then choose a pathway to show that you are ready for college or a job. That is the message from the Ohio Department of Education concerning what a student must to in order to graduate.

However, in January of this year, the State Board of Education came to the State Legislature with a request: to continue graduation requirements that applied to the Class of 2018 for two more years. HB630 was introduced on May 3. It was referred to the Education and Career Readiness Committee on May 15, where it has been since.

However, some administrators in Ohio remain hopeful that it will be revived and passed after the General Election. Ohio has gone from course completion graduation requirements to a system that incorporates both classes taken and test scores. Last year, students had two options one for academic or for career tech. These requirements included attendance and grades.

Beginning this year, students must earn a minimum of 20 credits in specific subjects, English Language Arts (4), Math (4) Science (3), Social Studies (3), Health (.5), Physical Education (.5) and Electives (5). In addition, each student must earn .5 (1/2 credit) in a financial literacy course and must complete at least two semesters in fine arts. It should be noted that districts can require more than 20 credits to graduate. That is not the case at East Holmes or Garaway.

In addition, students must choose a pathway and pass associated tests with that pathway.
— The Ohio State Test path requires students to earn at least 18 points on a total of seven end-of-course State tests. Areas to be tested are Biology, English 1, English 2, American History, American Government, Geometry or Integrated Math 2, Algebra 1 or Integrated Math 1. Students can earn up to five points per test. There is a minimum of four points on tests in math and English. Students must also earn six points across the sciences and social studies.
— The Industry Credential and Workforce Readiness path asks that students earn a minimum of 12 points that are earned by passing a State Board of Education-approved, industry-recognized credential and pass a WorkKeys test.
— The College and Career Readiness Test measure requires students to earn a remediation-free score on the ACT or SAT in language arts and math. The English subscore of 18, while Reading is 22 and Math, is 20 for the ACT.

For some schools, including Garaway and East Holmes, the challenge is really to make sure their students graduate. Garaway Principal Ryan Taggert explained the school’s situation recently. “Right now, we have three students, not including those at Buckeye Career Center, who have a chance of not graduating,” he shared. “We are working with them intensely and will readminister testing in hopes of getting them in line with the new standards. I’m optimistic. We will retest them at the end of December.”

Ultimately, school districts are working to make sure standards are met because graduation rate is another piece of the School Report Card puzzle. Tests are used to calculate the scores of the School Report Card, including End of Course and ACT/SAT, are also used in a weighted formula to determine parts of the overall grade assigned to districts.