State schools superintendent Paolo DeMaria speaks at a press conference in 2018.
State schools superintendent Paolo DeMaria speaks at a press conference in 2018. [Karen Kasler | Statehouse News Bureau]

Students Taking State Math, English Tests Must Be “Competent” – Not “Proficient”

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Spring is coming, and so is state testing season in Ohio’s schools. And next week, the state school superintendent and the Ohio Department of Education will set minimum scores for students to show competency in Algebra 1 and English II – but they won’t  be required to be proficient.

State tests have always had five areas where a student’s score will fall: “limited”, “basic”, “proficient”, “accelerated” and “advanced”. New graduation requirements passed last year require competency on those tests, and superintendent Paolo DeMaria said the “competency” score will be somewhere between “basic” and “proficient” on the current state testing scale.

DeMaria said this isn’t a lowering of the bar, because it’s never been required for students to score “proficient” on those tests to graduate. He said this just sets a baseline standard for those who plan to go right to work after high school.

“What we’re basically trying to do is, looking at the minimal requirement, what do we think it’s going to take for a student to be able to go into the real world and do some things that will allow them to succeed?” said DeMaria. “And we’ve gauged that against sort of entry level jobs in positions that really say all we are looking for is a student with a high school diploma. If we use that as the standard, that’s what we’re trying to say with this.”

The new graduation standards also allow options besides competency on tests to earn diplomas starting in 2023, but DeMaria said going beyond competency will still be emphasized to students.