New High School Graduation Requirements Will Affect Class Of 2018

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The Ohio Graduation Test is going away.

Following passage of the Mid-Term Budget Bill earlier this week by Ohio legislators, the test which has served as a graduation requirement over the last few years will no longer be required beginning with the Class of 2018.

“I look forward to the shift away from the OGT to end-of-course exams,” said Athens High School Principal David Hanning. “End-of-course exams will be a more accurate measure of whether course specific learning objectives have been met. It makes sense that students would be assessed at the completion of a course, rather than at a later time, that is further removed from the actual learning. I believe students and teachers will find these tests more relevant than the OGT.”

Students, beginning with the freshman class this fall, will be required to take seven end-of-course exams instead of the broad ranging OGT. Exams will include English I and II, Geometry, Algebra, Physical Science, American History and American Government.

“I prefer the concept of end of course exams over that of the OGT, as it ‘fits’ more appropriately with our course structure. The testing is more closely related to material that was recently covered, and the tests will provide more specific information to teachers in regards to adjusting teaching strategies and methodologies, as well as developing more specific learning objectives for individual students who may struggle with a particular content area,” stated Athens City Schools Associate Supt. Tom Gibbs.

The concern for some is if this testing format will be any different than those offered in the past.

“I have not had any confidence in any of the state graduation test requirements since the first ninth grade test over two decades ago. In this time, first with the ninth and 12th grade tests and recently with the OGTs, the state has not carried out any studies to see how scores on these tests correlate with college grades, college graduation, success in careers, or any other measure. Now we are about to embark on yet another test regime while we know nothing about the earlier ones and most likely will learn nothing about these either,” stated Supt. George Wood of Federal Hocking School District.

Wood continues, “I find it interesting that the research continues to show that the best predictor of student success in college are their high school grades. And yet we still insist on testing the heck out of our kids. What a shame and what a waste of educational dollars.”

Information provided by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) states, that the State Board of Education will enact rules creating a system of points that students will earn toward graduation based upon how they perform on tests. Students will have the option to substitute passing scores on Advanced Placement exams or post secondary course exams for the physical science, American history and American government tests.

“While it’s unsure of how students will actually perform on the end-of-course exams, I do think this will be a benefit for our students,” said Trimble High School Principal Matt Curtis. “Instead of having to pass five tests students will have more of an opportunity to receive points based on their scores for graduation. If students are weaker in certain subjects they can make up for that in their stronger areas. It has been frustrating to see a student score one or two points below the OGT cut off score and then have more stress placed on them to graduate. An end-of-course exam would test just the one subject and not an entire discipline. For example, the Social Studies OGT has elements of World Studies, American History, Government, Economics, Geography etc. However the end-of-course exam would just be a single topic that students take in a year.”

There will also be alternative paths to graduation offered to students. According to the information from ODE, students can become eligible to earn a high school diploma by earning scores on the national college admissions tests that indicate they can do college-level work without needing to take remedial classes. A second alternative for a student to become eligible for graduation is by obtaining industry-recognized credentials and passing scores on nationally-recognized job skills assessments.

“I think we are getting closer to a requirement that is fairer for all students to be able to be successful. There has always been an alternative pathway for graduation but some of those requirements are tough to meet especially for students who are unable to pass the OGT. I do like that the state seems to be recognizing students who attend our career center and receive specialized training,” said Curtis.

Another change coming as a result of the Mid-Term Budget Bill is the availability of free college readiness testing (ACT exam) for students. Beginning in 2015, all high school juniors will have the opportunity to take the test one time free of charge.

“Having a free SAT/ACT is a major improvement, one that was proposed by former Governor Ted Strickland over six years ago. It is a shame six graduating classes missed out on this benefit,” said Wood.