The Columbus Board of Education Tuesday night heard details about new statewide options to certify students are ready to graduate from high school.
Alison Holm has more.
Columbus City Schools director of secondary curriculum Sharee Wells says students in the class of 2018 will be able to select the method of testing that best shows how ready they are for college or careers.
“No longer are students are tied to the Ohio Graduations Test. That 10th grade test by subject is gone! Now students have the option of showing that they are college- and career-ready by way of the Ohio State Tests, college and career readiness tests, or industry credential and readiness tests.”
The OST option requires high school students to take seven end-of-course tests in areas like English, math, social sciences. Each test is scored from 1 – limited – to 5 – advanced. In order to graduate, they must earn at least 18 out of 35 points.
“The benefit of this option – the beauty of this option – is that students who are high achieving in different subject areas have the potential to show that mastery. So, for our students that are good in English or Language Arts, they might get five points in the English 9 test, and 5 points in the English 10 test, and will have more than half the points needed for graduation. So it’s a wonderful opportunity for our students in terms of flexibility. The catch is, that students must have minimum scores by subject area.”
In addition to the minimum 18 points, students must have at least 4 points on the combined English tests, 4 points on the combined math tests, and a combined six points in the science and social science categories.
A second path to graduation would be scoring a college-ready or “remediation free” total on the ACT or SAT test. Students who score above the state-mandated level on those test are exempt from other graduation tests. And for the first time students on career or technical paths have the option to graduate by passing a basic work keys exam and obtaining industry-recognized credentials for their field.
Not all of the school board members were pleased with the new state plans. Board member Shawna Gibbs fears that while the new options play to students’ strengths,
It may leave their weakness unaddressed.
“The beauty is flexibility and I get that; but this also represents a lower standard than we have had. Before you had to pass all these tests, at this number, and this showed proficiency. We are now about to go to ‘you can be lower on this and higher on this and that’s fine’, but we are acknowledging that we are going to graduate students that are not competitive.
But district officials and Superintendent Dan Good disagree, saying that the state will consider a threshold of proficiency for all test scores and credential requirements.
The new graduation options don’t change the number or distribution of class credits required to graduate, and district officials acknowledge that news systems will have to be developed to help students, counselors and parents track progress toward graduation. District officials will be holding public meetings to discuss the new options at area high schools, starting with March 29th at Mifflin High School, and April 1rst at Columbus Downtown High School.