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Ohio's New Graduation Requirements May Be Illegal

Photo of student at desk
Elizabeth Albert

In June, Ohio lawmakers approved a bill giving the Class of 2018 an alternative path to graduation. The move came after the state Department of Education predicted in 2016 more than a third of the class wouldn’t qualify to receive diplomas in May.

However, an education think tank is questioning whether that alternative path is acceptable under federal law.


Nearly 77 percent of the class of 2018 is on track to graduate and another 19 percent are “highly likely” to meet requirements. But Chad Aldis with the Fordham Institute says in order to reach that number, the state created an alternative path that is less rigorous. He questions whether its allowed under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

“Our reading of that suggests that is indeed a lower bar that’s been put in place and probably should not be counted for the federal graduation rate,” Aldis said.


ESSA allows states to create their own thresholds for granting diplomas, but says only students who earn a regular diplomacan be counted in thefederal graduation rate. That rate is often used as a way to rank the quality of a state’s schools when trying to attract new business investment.

Clarification:  The story has been updated to reflect when the Department of Education originally predicted that a third of the class wouldn't graduate in May 2018.