StateImpact is answering reader-submitted questions about the Common Core, a new set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do in math and English at each grade level. Ohio is one of 45 states that have fully adopted the Common Core.
Today, we answer a question about college admissions.
The Common Core is supposed to raise expectations for all students, but some parents are concerned that it may also make it hard for their children to get into college.
Ohio mother Laura Hunt Hume asks via Facebook:
My daughter is a ninth-grade honors student, so she is scheduled to graduate in 2016. I’m concerned about the prediction of test scores plummeting in 2014 because of the change. How long will it take to recover as they adjust to the new curriculum and will this plummet affect students’ ability to compete for college?
How long will it take for test scores to recover? Unclear. (In fact, it’s unclear how much they’ll drop.)
Will it affect students’ chances of getting into college? Maybe.
Will it better prepare students to succeed in college? Some people think so.
When people talk about test scores dropping under the Common Core, they’re generally talking about scores on state standardized tests. That’s because the new tests coming with the Common Core are likely to be more challenging than Ohio’s current state tests. And teachers won’t be as familiar with them so they won’t be able to prepare students as well for the tests themselves.
In Ohio, high school students currently take the Ohio Graduation Tests or OGTs. Those tests don’t count towards students’ grades. Still, most students –about 80 percent last year — pass them by 10th grade.
But the OGTs are going away.
They’ll be replaced with two different sets of tests:
- New mandatory, standardized end-of-course exams that replace existing local end-of-course exams. These tests will count towards students’ grades.
- A test like the ACT Plan or PSAT. This test is supposed to show whether students are likely to be ready for college-level work by the time they graduate. This test will not count towards students’ grades.
Starting in 2014-15, all high school students must pass 10 end-of-course exams in English I, II and III; Algebra I; Geometry; Algebra II; Biology; Physical Science; American History; and American Government.
But Ohio has not yet decided how high to set the “passing” scores on the exams or how heavily the exam scores must be weighted for students’ grades. That’s up to the state Board of Education, Ohio Department of Education spokesperson John Charlton says.
That means that it’s hard to say now if high school students’ grade point averages will drop or by how much.
Ohio also has not yet worked out how the new tests will be phased in for students. That means that if your child started high school before fall 2014, the requirements may be somewhat different. Again, the state is still working these things out, Charlton says.
The intent behind the changes is to better prepare students for college, he says.
“I understand that parents are concerned about getting into a good college, but the bigger thing is they want their kids to be successful [in college],” Charlton says.
Please tell us if you’re a parent, teacher, principal, policymaker or concerned citizen who cares about how the Common Core will change education in our state. We’ll find answers and share them here at StateImpact Ohio.