College-bound students face tougher requirements

High school students will soon have to meet stricter requirements before they can move on to most Ohio universities, the Columbus school board heard in a report on Ohio Core guidelines May 6.

"The goal of Ohio’s system of elementary and secondary education is to prepare all students for graduation and seamlessly connect all students to success in life beyond high school and graduation," said Pete Maneff, executive director of curriculum leadership and development.

The Ohio Core was implemented as Ohio law on Jan 3, 2007, as part of Senate Bill 311. The purpose of Ohio Core was to ensure students graduating high school with the intent of going on to college are ready for college-level learning.

Superintendent Gene T. Harris said the district was supportive of Ohio Core and testified on its behalf.

"The legislature is very concerned about remediation and the amount of money spent on remediation at the college level. The thought was if there was a better alignment between the high school curriculum and college entrance requirements, then our students would have a better opportunity to be successful and not only get into college but also complete it," said Harris.

Maneff said all Ohio schools are required, by July 1, 2014, to increase the credit requirements for math and the amount of laboratory time for science courses credit.

Ohio Core will also necessitate Ohio schools administering an eleventh-grade state "College and Workforce Readiness" test that students will be required to pass.

"Senate Bill 311 has made provisions for students to get a high school diploma without completing the Ohio core. A student who enters ninth grade on or before July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014 may quality for graduation, even though the student hasn’t completed the Ohio Core Curriculum. While it allows them to graduate, it limits them from entering 10 of 13 colleges," said Maneff.

With the exceptions of Youngstown State University, Central State University and Shawnee State University, 10 out of 13 state-assisted, four-year Ohio universities will not accept students who have not completed the Ohio Core after 2014.

"I think that one of the reasons that the legislature left Shawnee State, Central State and Youngstown State where students might not be included in Core, is they have a very rich history of educating students who may not have met the standard initially in high school but they work with those students in small settings and intensively so those students have access to a college education," said Harris.

Maneff said the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Partnership for Continued Learning (PCL) is working on developing different testing methodologies for the Core test and that the test itself will focus on student reading and math skills.

"The way I understand it, the tenth- grade test would stay in place as a graduation test for all students and then there would be an additional 11th grade level test, mainly reading and mathematics. I think the reason is getting students ready for the ACT and college entrance exams, seeing where they are, making sure they’re ready to accept that challenge," said Harris.

Maneff did not anticipate any impact the Ohio Core would have on high school graduation for students, but the information from the tests will have an impact on "unconditional admittance" to most of Ohio colleges.

"Consequently, those test scores on the 11th grade tests could limit what was unconditional to conditional. The state is field testing at this time," said Maneff.

Maneff said students will still be able to get a General Educational Development (GED) test if they so choose and later go to a community college with intentions of transferring to a four-year institution if they choose to do so.

"The Ohio Core is still accessing the four-year universities, so students who graduate without Core, can go to community colleges and then access four-year colleges, but we want students to access four-year universities directly," said Maneff.

Maneff said he estimates the board will make policy-level decisions on the details of Ohio Core in June to determine how the board will interpret the Ohio Core implementation goals, which will then go into effect immediately, such as whether or not to offer a two-tier graduation with a college preparatory diploma for students that pass the Core and a basic high school diploma for those who do not; or offer one diploma for everyone.

Dorian Wingard, board liaison, said some of this process is beyond the board’s scope.

"The whole implementation process is going to invariably require that we take a look at some of how we do things without doing too much, too soon and a large majority of that sometimes ends up back in the legislature’s hands, and they look at funding requirements, take a look at how we construct the end of the school year; that’s the legislature tasks," said Wingard.

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