Graduating in 2018? Expect major changes to graduation requirements

Will allow multiple pathways to graduation without passing state tests.

Gov. John Kasich OK’d major changes to graduation requirements for the Class of 2018 this summer.

Kasich signed a state budget that includes alternate pathways to graduation for Class of 2018 students who don’t pass state tests.

Under the plan, modeled off the state school board’s recommendations, students could graduate via good senior-year attendance and grades, or via a senior-year project plus 120 hours of work or community service.

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Senate Education Committee Chair Peggy Lehner said earning required course credits should outweigh test results, especially for this class, which has been through so much change.

“It takes several years for kids to become accustomed to a new test, and for teachers to know how to prepare students for it,” said Lehner, R-Kettering. “You’ll always see kids do worse at the beginning of new tests. … Because graduation is dependent on this, that’s pretty high stakes, so it seems only fair to give these kids in the beginning an opportunity.”

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Many educators have suggested that 30 percent of the Class of 2018 wouldn’t graduate under the existing system, which requires most students to score 18 of a possible 35 points on end-of-course exams.

Class of 2018 students would still have to earn the required number of course credits, take all end-of-course exams, and retake any of those math or English exams on which they earned a score of 1 or 2 on a 5-point scale. But they wouldn’t have to pass the exams.

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If they didn’t score the required 18 of 35 points, they could graduate by meeting any two of nine other requirements:

* 93 percent attendance senior year

* A 2.5 GPA in at least four full-year senior-year courses

* A senior-year “capstone” project

* 120 hours of senior-year work or community service

* Three credit hours via College Credit Plus

* Passage of an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate class and exam

* A “level three” score on each of three components of the WorkKeys test

* Industry credentials totaling at least three points in Ohio’s system

* Receive an Ohio Means Jobs readiness seal.

A second provision would create a graduation pathway for students who complete a four-course career technical training program, and are either proficient on the technical exams, earn 12 points of credentials, or work 250-plus hours with positive evaluations.