New Law Adds Graduation Options For High School Seniors This Year

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio high school seniors stressed out about graduation can rest a little easier.

High schools do not have to give the American history standardized test this year. And they will have other options to graduate seniors who do not pass the standardized tests required for other subjects.

The Athens High School entrance on Johnson Road.
The Athens High School entrance on Johnson Road. (WOUB photo/Michelle Rotuno-Johnson)

This was made possible under House Bill 67 signed last weekend by Gov. Mike DeWine intended to give students a break during a pandemic that has disrupted school in so many ways.

Other than the American history test, which is a state requirement, students in elementary, middle and high school still have to take the other standardized tests, which are federal requirements. This includes students who have not returned to the classroom and still attending school remotely.

High schools will now have a couple of options for seniors who do not pass the tests. The school can instead use the student’s final course grade in the subject being tested in place of the score on the standardized exam. So, if a student earns a C or better in geometry, that can be treated as the equivalent of a passing score on that portion of the test.

Superintendent Tom Gibbs sits in the crowd at a recent Athens City School District Board of Education meeting.
Superintendent Tom Gibbs sits in the crowd at a Athens City School District Board of Education meeting. [Aaron Payne | Ohio Valley ReSource]
“That’s huge,” said Tom Gibbs, superintendent of the Athens City School District. “In fact, student grades, even with grade inflation, by and large tend to be a better predictor because it’s a better indicator of how much work students actually put into the day to day.”

If that option doesn’t work because the student’s grades aren’t high enough in one or more courses, the bill provides another option for students who have really struggled during the pandemic.

Those who were otherwise on track to graduate, but for one reason or another the pandemic knocked them off course, Gibbs said, the principal, teachers and counselors can come together and decide “OK, did they do their best, do we believe that they have the skills and that they’ve met the minimum necessary requirements to graduate?”

These alternative graduation options are a one-time-only deal, available only to seniors or others on track to graduate this school year.

But high school juniors benefit too because some of the standardized exams that must be passed to graduate are taken during the junior year. Juniors who don’t pass the exams this year can also substitute their course grades.

The bill also covers home-schooled students, who are not required to take the standardized exams.

Parents of these students normally have to file an assessment report each year demonstrating their child’s proficiency in the required subjects. The bill waives that requirement for this school year.