Are you on point? That’s the question that we’re asking our high school students.
There are new state graduation requirements for students in the class of 2018 and beyond. As in the past, the State of Ohio requires students to pass a series of assessments in order to graduate. Students now take assessments in seven subject areas: Math I, Math 2, U.S. History, U.S. Government, English Language Arts I, English Language Arts II, and Physical Science and Biology. (There are two other paths to graduation: 1. Earn a remediation free score on the ACT/SAT 2. Earn an Industry Credential and pass the WorkKeys Assessment) You can learn more about the system here.
Beginning with the class of 2018, the State of Ohio requires students to earn a combined total of 18 points on end-of-course assessments in order to graduate. The 18 points must include a minimum of four points from Mathematics assessments, four points from English Language Arts assessments, and a total of six points from Science and Social Studies assessments combined. The remaining points may come from a combination of any end-of-course assessment.
In addition, students who take Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests in Biology, American History, or American Government and whose AP or IB scores meet the state’s criteria, may use their AP or IB test scores in place of the state’s end-of-course assessment. Students enrolled in the College Credit Plus courses in these same areas may use their grades in place of the state’s end-of-course assessments.
The State of Ohio School Board will be weighing in on the issue of the graduation requirement at their meeting on November 14 and 15. I’d like to see them make some changes in the current law, at least for a while. There is absolutely no federal requirement, under ESSA or otherwise, for graduation to be dependent upon passing a test. Ohio is one of only 14 states to require this, down from 25 states just 10 years ago. Current high school students deserve a “safe harbor” so that state tests have no bearing on their graduation. The current Junior class has been assessed using three different assessment systems implemented by the State of Ohio. As 8th graders they were given the Ohio Achievement Tests. As 9th graders they were given PARCC and as 10th grades Ohio switched to AIR. These constant changes and the significant increase in what is expected for passage lead many statewide to become concerned that there has been too much change and too fast for this group of students.
In addition the three pathways system while promising long-term is somewhat of a myth right now. Students who can earn the remediation free score on the ACT/SAT are also likely earning their points on the graduation tests. Thus, those two pathways help the same students. The industry credential pathway has promise over time but currently we do not have enough industry credential pathways on our campuses for the students who need them. Thus that is a limited pathway option at this time.
In Worthington specifically we are working to help all students and parents have an accurate understanding of where they stand in the points they have earned. All parents of juniors were mailed a personalized letter showing them the points they have earned and what they still need to accomplish. We are concerned that approximately 12% of our current junior class is in real danger of not graduating next year. Many of those students are identified as ELL which means they are just now learning English. Our teachers and principals are actively working with our students to provide intervention and retake assessments to help students earn points.
We believe in high standards and in accountability. However I do believe Ohio needs to find a way to create safe harbor for our students until we can create a stable assessment system that is reliable and valid and until we can build more industry credential pathways for students to access.
- Trent Bowers, Superintendent