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Ohio Graduation Rules Spark Protests, State Considers Revisions

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GraduationCapLadders-Getty-560x292Blog.jpgAbout 200 local superintendents from dozens of Ohio school districts plan to convene on the statehouse today to protest new high school requirements that imperil the graduation of hundreds of students.

The district leaders are coming to the state's capital, Columbus, from more than 70 counties, according to local news reports. They're worried because in some districts, as many as half of this year's junior class are not on track to graduate. 

The focus of the superintendents' protest is a set of graduation requirements approved by the Ohio board of education in 2014.

The new rules require students, beginning with this year's junior class, to earn 20 credits and choose one of three pathways to graduation. One of those pathways requires students to rack up 18 points out of a possible 35 points across seven end-of-course tests that replaced the state's previous graduation exam, the Ohio Graduation Test. Those points must be distributed a certain way, too. Four must be in math, four in English, and six must be in social studies or science.

Students can use two other routes to graduation, as well: They can earn an industry-recognized career credential and score at a workforce-ready level on the WorkKeys test, or earn a score on a national college-entrance exam that signifies they don't need remediation in college.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio is likely to ease the graduation rules, but the superintendents are gathering on the steps of the state Capitol today to apply pressure to make that happen.

Peggy Lehner, the Ohio Senate education committee chairwoman, told reporters that the superintendents' concerns will be addressed, and that state officials will look at a variety of revisions. The state board is also scheduled to discuss the issue at its meeting this week.

"We're not going to let 50 percent of our students in the state go without diplomas," Lehner said, according to local news reports.

One revision could be to reduce the number of points students need to score on the end-of-course tests, and gradually increase it to 18 again. Another could be lowering the minimum scores students need to earn on the SAT or ACT, although those minimums were the ones college faculty identified as showing the likelihood that students are ready to handle credit-bearing college work.


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