Ohio

Eye on Education

Ohio’s New Graduation Requirements

This guy won't have to take the OGTs.

Myles! / Flickr

This guy won't have to take the OGTs.

The Ohio Graduation Tests were a necessary cornerstone to earning a high school diploma in the Buckeye State. But now, the tests most commonly known as the OGTs are being phased out.

Thanks to the passing of House Bill 487, incoming freshmen will face different graduation requirements, including a slew of new tests.

Previously, students typically took the five-part OGTs beginning in the spring of their sophomore year.  The series covers the content areas of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.

But now, the state will move towards tests that are more demanding than the current standards, Ohio Department of Education spokesperson John Charlton said.

“It was fairly easy to pass,” Charlton said of the OGTs. “A lot of sophomores were passing it. It’s supposed to be a graduation requirement, so it seemed like it wasn’t challenging enough.”

Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors will still be required to take and pass the current Ohio Graduation Tests.

Things will begin to change for the Class of 2018.  They’ll be required to take seven new end of course tests that will directly replace the OGTs. And nope, there’s no catchy acronym for these new tests.

The end of course exams will each cover physical science, English I and English II, American history and American government, along with math exams in either algebra and geometry or Integrated Math I and Integrated Math II.

To avoid overtesting, students who are enrolled in a handful of higher-level Advanced Placement classes will be able to take the exam that accompanies those courses, instead of one of the state’s tests.

This fall’s freshmen will face the same course requirements as previous students. They’ll still have to pass four units each of English and math, three units each of science and social studies, half of a unit in both health and physical education, along with five additional electives.

Charlton said each of the exams will be administered after the completion of the corresponding course, which will ultimately work in students’ favor.

“If you take algebra in ninth grade, you’d take the exam at the end of ninth grade,” said Charlton. “You’re taking it as soon as you complete that coursework. I think it gives the students an advantage, because the information is fresh in their minds.”

After taking each of those exams, students still have one more step to complete before earning their diplomas. If they hit a certain cumulative passing score on each exam, they’ll be in the clear.  Charlton said the state board of education hasn’t yet determined what will constitute as a passing score.

But if they take all of the tests but don’t cross that cumulative score threshold, there’s two other options.

One can be met by achieving a “remediation-free” score on a college admission exam, like the ACT or SAT. The Ohio Board of Regents sets that score, basing it on the basic level of education students need to begin college without needing any remediation courses. All high school juniors will be required to take one of the exams, paid for by the state.

And the second is by earning a vocational certificate, consisting of an industry-recognized credential or a state-issued license that shows graduates are prepared to take on a career.

Charlton said the new changes are intended to be be a boost from the current standards.

“We believe it measures students somewhere between an 8th grade and a 10th grade level,” he said of the current Ohio Graduation Tests. “We’re actually giving our students a 10th grade level graduation test, which is part of the reason that the legislature decided that we needed to do away with the OGTs and come up with a better system for requirements for graduation.”

In an online statement, the Ohio School Board Association seemed pleased with the new requirements.

“We have been involved with the discussion of the graduation requirements since last summer when the State Board of Education invited stakeholders to its committee considering these changes,” said Thomas Ash, the group’s director of governmental relations. “These changes reflect several of the concepts that we suggested and the State Board accepted.”
The bill now waits for Gov. John Kasich’s review.

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