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3 of 4 high school seniors on track to meet Ohio graduation requirements

(October 17, 2017) — About three-fourth of Ohio high school seniors are on track to earn a diploma in the spring, but more likely will graduate thanks to new, softer standards for the class of 2018.

An evaluation by the state Department of Education shows 77 percent of students in the class of 2018 either already met or are highly likely to meet graduation

requirements passed by lawmakers a few years ago, according to data provided Tuesday to the state Board of Education.

Starting with this year’s high school seniors, students must accumulate at least 18 points out of a possible 36 on seven end-of-course tests to graduate high school. They also have the option of getting a “remediation-free” score on a college entrance exam, or obtaining and industry credential indicating they are ready for a job.

An evaluation conducted last year by the state Department of Education raised concern when it showed only two-thirds of the class of 2018 either already met or were on track to meet the new requirements.

With a promise to prepare students for college and career, state lawmakers approved the new graduation requirements in 2014, responding in large part to concerns that about 40 percent of Ohio high-school graduates attending Ohio public colleges and universities needed remedial classes.

There are, however, limitations to the new data.

Additional options for this year’s seniors to graduate were included in the latest state budget bill signed in June, but Tuesday’s statistics do not include students who will meet those additional options.

Those options say members of only the class of 2018 can graduate as long as they meet at least two additional qualifications that include showing up for school 93 percent of the time senior year, a 2.5 GPA senior year, community service or a job credential, or score a 3 or higher on an AP course.

“There are still a lot of points on the table for students,” said Chris Woolard, executive director for accountability and continuous improvement for the Ohio Department of Education.

The new data also does not include Industry Recognized Credential and WorkKeys data, and includes limited information on IEP exemptions, information on course taking, and on scoring for international baccalaureate and advanced placement courses.

Woolard said the statistics provided are not graduation rates. Instead, he said, the data is projected rates of students on track to meet requirements for the end-of-course pathway or the ACT/SAT remediation-free pathway with a year of school remaining.

When looking ahead to the Class of 2019, this year’s current juniors, about 66 percent of students are on track to graduate, a number that is nearly identical to

where the Class of 2018 was last year at this time, raising questions from board members.

“We still have the same number roughly of students that are in jeopardy,” said board member Pat Bruns.

The data for the Class of 2019 share many of the same limitations as the Class of 2018.

Megan Henry is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps Statehouse News Bureau.