Rapid change to graduation requirements worries local superintendents

The rigorous new standard affects thousands of students across Ohio

CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – There are new standards for the Class of 2018 to earn a high school diploma, and state data shows some of the students, who are currently juniors, might not be able to meet them.

There are now three ways to graduate high school in Ohio.

  • College and career readiness tests: Earn remediation-free scores on the SAT or ACT
    • SAT: Writing – 430 or higher, Math – 520 or higher, Reading – 450 or higher
    • ACT: English – 18 or higher, Math – 22 or higher, Reading – 22 or higher
  • End-of-year state tests: Earn at least 18 points on seven tests (Algebra 1 or Integrated Math 1, Geometry or Integrated Math 2, American Government, American History, English 1, English 2 and Biology)
  • Industry credential and workforce readiness test: Earn a minimum of 12 points by receiving credentials in a career field, and a score of at least 13 on the WorkKeys test

High school can be overwhelming to begin with, as students balance class work, studying and tests.

“Made my life a little bit harder and it made my high school career a lot more difficult,” said Aleya Mims, a Struthers junior.

Superintendents are concerned about the change that affects thousands of Ohio students.

“We’ve looked at both the local data and the state data as it was presented by Ohio Department of Education, and they are very similar. So what’s happening in our area is very similar across the state,” said Doug Hiscox, with the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

Complete breakdown of high school graduation requirements (PDF)

The main issue superintendents have is that all of it is being implemented too quickly. Local superintendents went to Columbus last week for a state board of education committee meeting, and timing was one of the topics.

“The rigor that they have set for graduation rate is not in question, it’s something that is obtainable but the timeline for how we prepare students in districts to get those students at that level is going to take a little more time,” Hiscox said.

Superintendents are advocating for phasing in the requirements, like the required 18 points on end-of-year exams.

“Maybe drop from 18 points to maybe 14 or 12 points, I would hope,” said Struthers Superintendent Joe Nohra.

Hiscox says that concern was discussed at the meeting, suggesting the 18-point requirement be lowered to 16 and then gradually increasing the requirement each year to get up to 18.

When it comes to the industry credentials and workforce readiness, students also have to get a 13 on the WorkKeys test.

“They were looking at phasing that particular test because it does have a comparison to the ACT,” Hiscox said.

The Mahoning County Educational Service Center has a nearly $1 million grant for eight schools to help students earn industry credentials.

Nohra says that even though nothing official has happened yet, he thinks the state board of education and state superintendent are listening.

There are currently career counselors working with schools to help students meet the new standard.