I spent yesterday downtown at the Ohio Statewide Race to the Top conference hosted by the Ohio Department of Education. As a Race to the Top school district it is important that we stay abreast of what the legislative and Department of Education priorities are.
My main goal yesterday was to gain clarification on several important items. At the top of my priority list were the graduation requirements for this year’s 9th graders. If you have a child in the class of 2017 it is not yet clear what will be required to graduate from high school. We know that the courses required in Senate Bill 311 (Ohio Core) are still in effect. What we don’t know is exactly what assessments our freshman will need to pass in order to graduate. Unfortunately, I learned that The State Education Department does not yet know either.
Several days ago State of Ohio Superintendent, Dr. Richard Ross wrote the following in guidance to school districts: “As the rules stand today, schools must begin giving students in grades 3-8 and in high school the Next Generation Assessments during the next school year (2014-2015). In addition to the Next Generation Assessments, next year’s 10th-graders (the Class of 2017) must also take the Ohio Graduation Tests. Students will need the graduation tests to meet legislative graduation requirements. Necessary changes in legislation and related timing issues have prevented the Ohio Department of Education from establishing how the Next Generation Assessments will affect future graduation requirements.
A Graduation Requirements Committee of the State Board of Education is working to develop the new graduation rules. However, legislation is needed to make the rules effective for the Class of 2018. Until we know if or how legislation will change, the department will not be able to tell schools which assessments will be used for graduation requirements for the Class of 2018 and beyond. Reaching a decision on this and providing guidance to schools are high priorities of the department. We will be working closely with the Ohio General Assembly to get closure on this issue.
In the meantime, here is what I can tell you: This year’s Ohio Graduation Tests will align to both the current standards and Ohio’s New Learning Standards. Next year, both the Ohio Graduation Tests and Next Generation Assessments will align to Ohio’s New Learning Standards.”
What I learned at the conference today is that there will indeed be Ohio Graduation Tests next year. They will be given during the same testing window (this week), they will be paper and pencil tests (not computer based), and they will cover the new learning standards, not the old learning standards. The Freshman will also take the PSAT in 10th grade. What other end of course exams, or options such as earning industry certifications, that will be required (if any) are still to be determined. We were told that a proposal is scheduled to be brought forward at the November State Board of Education Meeting. The State Board will hopefully take action and we can explain with clarity to students, parents, and school leaders exactly what students will need to do in order to graduate from high school in Ohio. At the very least our kids deserve this, and really, it is disappointing that we have put kids in a position where they are 10 weeks into high school and we cannot tell them exactly what they will need to do to in order to graduate.
With what we learned today it looks like we are getting closer. Stay tuned….