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Reporting on the state of education in your community and across the country.

Ohio High School Graduation Rules To Be Re-Examined

by Mark Urycki

The State Board of Education is holding off plans to change strict new graduation requirements for high school students.  Concern over the new standards arose when local school superintendents said nearly 30% of students may not graduate. 


The latest figures show 66% of the graduating class of 2018 are on track to add up the necessary points on the 7 End of Course exams.  But a proposal to form a new working group to study the graduation requirements led to about 7 hours of debate.


“This may have been the strangest bit of debate in my 6 years on the board” said board member Todd Jones, “and I’ve been here for a lot weirdness.” 


State superintendent of schools Paolo DeMaria wasn’t happy about the conversation either.


“We wish we weren’t having this conversation.   And we perhaps would not need to have this conversation to the extent the system was producing the results we desire that we would desire.  And in fact, you’ve heard many superintendents who’ve appeared before this board simply say that.  We believe we can get there – we need more time.”


Jones was not in favor of lowering the minimum test scores needed to graduate saying good local districts step up and see to it that their kids perform better.


The people we’re hearing from are consistently the ones whose districts are failing to perform under the system and whose kids have been shortchanged the past few years and not the ones who are doing something about it.” 


New numbers show less than 40% of students in the high poverty urban districts or in charter schools are on track.  The Head of the Senate Education Committee Peggy Lehner says they need to help kids in poverty.


”All these things we talk about but we don’t fund and we don’t do. We can raise and lower standards all we want and cut scores and numbers but at the end of the day we know 33% of our kids are not learning what they need to learn to be successful.”


A representative from the Thomas B. Fordham institute asked to the board to consider three levels of diplomas. A representative from the construction industry suggested keeping standards high for students on a college prep pathway but he wanted to expand ng non-college, vocational offerings.


A task force of 2 dozen members from around the state will make a recommendation on graduation requirements in April.


[12/21/16 CORRECTION: This story has been altered to correct the original wording. In the original version the story stated that graduation requirements were delayed. ODE will continue to study the issue and could potentially change graduation requirements after a work group looks at the issue further.]