State Board of Education vs. the State Senate on the Issue of Graduation Requirements

 

The State Board of Education has been working on revamping graduation requirements, but their plan differs from one currently under consideration in the State Senate.

In November 2018, the Board approved Resolution 15 to adopt the recommendations of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee for High School Graduation Requirements. Those necessities differ from the Senate’s language in House Bill 166.

According to Gongwer articles that followed the progress of the changes, the State Board of Education’s approved requirements for graduation include:

  • passing the necessary number of end-of-course exams
  • averaging a 2.5 GPA or better in English, math and other specified subjects, or
  • meeting state benchmarks on alternative tests including the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and college placement tests

Also, students will be required to demonstrate skills in technology and meet their own district’s requirements for “Leadership and Reasoning” and “Social-Emotional Skills.” These two requisites account for 50 percent of the state’s Strategic Plan called Each Child Our Future.

A change in graduation requirements needs legislative approval. The Senate has added a plan to the budget that was recommended by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Ohio Excels, Alliance for High Quality Education and The Ohio 8. The simple formula for the new requirements is:

High School Diploma = Course Completion + Competency + Preparation for College or Career

“Course completion” means that a student fulfills the minimum required coursework as determined by the state and their district.

“Competency” requires students to achieve a score on English II and Algebra I tests that equals “competent” level. If they fail to reach competency after receiving additional help and retaking exams, competency can be acquired, according to the proposal, through:

  1. College Credit Plus: Earn credit for one math and one English course through College Credit Plus.
  2. Career Experience & Technical Skill: Complete two demonstrations, at least one of which must be foundational:
    1. Foundational: Proficient on four WebXams, approved industry credential (12 points), pre-apprenticeship or acceptance into an apprenticeship program
    2. Supporting: Workplace experience, WorkKeys or the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal
  3. Military Readiness: Meet the requirements to enlist in the military, including AFQT requirements, as demonstrated by a contract with the military to enlist upon graduation.

“Preparation for College or Career” requires a student to earn at least two “diploma seals” with at least one of them defined by the state. Some examples include the College-Ready Seal from the state that requires remediation-free scores in math and English on one of the college entrance exams, a Science Seal which is evidenced by a proficient score on the Biology test or a Community Service Seal, which is one of several options designed by the local district. There are twelve seal options in all and they will be placed on the diplomas.

In the budget language, the Senate specifies that one seal must be biliteracy, OhioMeansJob-Readiness, or one of the new seals that current budget language requires the State Board of Education to create.

The Senate plan  also includes a reduction in testing. Only sufficient scores on the Algebra I and English II tests will be required for graduation, but the high schools will still test in five areas. The Senate drops English I and Geometry, but keeps Biology, American Government and American History testing.

Students who are unable to pass retakes of Algebra I and/or English II can meet those test requirements by passing appropriate College Credit Plus coursework, providing evidence of military enlistment, completing a “foundational option” such as apprenticeship and/or an additional foundational option or supporting option such as 250 hours of work-based learning.

There is a prohibition in the Senate budget against the State Board of Education (SBE) determining what minimum scores, known as “cut scores,” will be. Historically, since the state test changed from norm-referenced tests, such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, to criterion-referenced, such as PARCC or Smarter Balanced, the SBE has been able to change the scores on their own to decide what equaled passing.

Language in the budget, if passed, “Requires the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board, in consultation with the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Chancellor of Higher Education, to determine a ‘competency score’ for the algebra I and English language arts II end-of-course exams.”

As reported in The Ohio Star, rumors were swirling that one of the issues holding up the budget is education, including the Senate changes to graduation requirements.

The Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate have set their own deadline of July 17 to iron out their differences. The State Board of Education has less than two weeks to impact legislators.

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to bethlearreports@gmail.com.
Photo “High School Graduation” by beltramistudios.

 

 

 

 

 

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