Graduation changes coming to local school district

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Recent changes to state graduation requirements were presented and discussed at the South-Western City Schools Board of Education meeting on Sept. 23.

District officials say the members of the class of 2020 through 2022 will see a minimal difference in graduation requirements from previous years. Those who are set to graduate in the subsequent years, however, will see a number of modifications.

“The requirements for our sophomores, juniors and seniors will essentially be the same as last year with some minor tweaks,” said Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise, “whereas the changes for the class of 2023 and beyond will be more significant.”

Members of the class of 2020 through 2022 will have to pass all mandatory high school courses and electives and continue to meet the standards in a number of pathways in order to graduate.

The first pathway requires the completion of one of the following: earning 18 graduation points on end of course exams; earning a remediation free score on the ACT or SAT; score 14 work ready points on the WorkKeys, or earn a 12-point, industry recognized credential or group of credentials.

The second pathway requires students to meet at least two of the following options: earn a 2.5 grade point average during junior and senior year; complete a Capstone project; accumulate 120 hours of work or community service; or have three or more credits through College Credit Plus. Additional options in this pathway including earning an industry recognized credential, a WorkKeys score of three on each test, an OhioMeansJobs readiness seal or credit(s) and score of three or higher on Advanced Placement exams.

The third pathway requires students to complete a career technical program and earn either proficiency on all WebXams, an approved industry recognized credential or accumulate 250 hours of workplace experience.

Students in the class of 2021 or 2022 who are on track to meet one of those pathways may continue to use them to satisfy graduation requirements, said Brad Faust, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum. They may also choose to follow the two permanent requirements established for the class of 2023 and beyond.

According to Faust, the two permanent requirements are the passage of the state’s Algebra I and English II test, (the state has not determined the passage rate at this time) and acquiring two “diploma seals,” one of which must be state defined. Faust noted the specifics on the diploma seals have also yet to be determined.

“We believe that we will be given more guidance by the state when we meet (with the state board of education) in October,” he said.

Under the first permanent requirement, students who take the Algebra I and English II tests more than once and fail to pass can demonstrate “competency” through these following options: earning credit for one math and/or English course through College Credit Plus; demonstrate career readiness and technical skill through foundational and supporting options; enter into a contract to enlist in the military upon graduation.

Under the second permanent requirement, students can earn any two of these diploma seals: OhioMeansJobs Readiness, State seal of Biliteracy, an industry recognized credential, a College Ready seal, or a military enlistment seal. Additional seals include science, honors diploma, technology, citizenship, fine and performing arts, student engagement and community service.

Faust said he knows the requirements for the class of 2023 and beyond have been causing confusion but he is confident that the district staff is up to taking on the challenge.

“There are many moving parts right now and some of the details have not totally been released by the state yet.”

Faust added that the district has a “dedicated” staff that will help pull them forward through any implementation bumps in the road.

In other news, board member Robert Ragland was recognized by the Ohio School Boards Association for his contributions as a member of the association’s board of trustees.

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