The State Board of Education has recommended that Ohio lawmakers create additional options for earning a high school diploma for students in the class of 2018 (current juniors). This class is the first to be subject to new graduation requirements. Left unchanged, these new requirements could well lead to a dramatic decrease in the high school graduation rate, especially in high poverty areas of the state. The State Board recognized the need for a transition period and called for the creation of a work group of stakeholders to recommend alternatives. OEA supports these recommendations (outlined below) and calls upon the legislature to take action.
It should be noted that while this recommendation is a needed interim step for the class of 2018, it does not represent a long-term solution. OEA believes that the state should continue to reduce the amount of testing as well as the high-stakes decisions associated with testing. Our graduation requirements should allow students to demonstrate skills and content knowledge in ways that are not dependent on testing. We will continue to work with policy makers and stakeholders towards this goal.
Beginning with the class of 2018, in addition to successfully completing required coursework, students are required to meet one of the following three graduation “pathways”: 1) accumulate at least 18 points on seven end-of-course exams; 2) achieve a “remediation free” score on the ACT or SAT; or 3) earn an industry-recognized credential and pass the WorkKeys workforce readiness exam. Each of these pathways is dependent on the results of high-stakes testing. Also, the end-of-course exams are new and have already been changed in the shift from PARCC to AIR tests. This instability has led to a projected decline in the graduation rates. This is unfair to students.
In recognition of the problem, the State Board of Education called for the creation of a work group of stakeholders to propose alternatives for the class of 2018. The work group recommended two changes which require legislative approval to go into effect. One recommendation would allow students who do not meet the requirements of the current pathways to graduate provided they take all required end-of-course exams and meet any two of the following six conditions:
- A senior-year attendance rate of 93 percent.
- A 2.5 GPA in senior year courses, based on taking a minimum of four courses.
- Completing a capstone senior project, as defined by the local school district.
- Completing 120 hours of work experience or community service.
- Successfully completing and earning the credit for a College Credit Plus (CCP) course worth three or more credits.
- Successfully completing an International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) course and earning a score on the respective exam that qualifies for college credit.
The second recommendation is aimed at career-technical education students. It would require students to complete a career-technical training program approved by the Ohio Department of Education and accomplish one of the following:
- Achieve an average score of proficient across all WebXams required for the program.
- Earn a recognized industrial credential or set of credentials.
- Demonstrate successful workplace experience of 250 hours, documented by written evaluations by workplace and school officials.