The Class of 2018 finally has clarity for what they need to do to graduate. After a great deal of debate in educational and legislative circles over the past year, new pathways to graduation are now official for seniors beginning this fall. Governor John Kasich signed Ohio's state budget in late June, approving the state school board’s recommendations. Before the approval of the budget, this year's seniors had the following graduation alternatives available to them:
The following options were added for seniors graduating in 2018 who do not meet any of the above test score criteria options. Students must complete at least two of the nine criteria.
2. A grade point average of 2.5 in at least four full-year senior classes
3. Complete a Capstone Project as defined by the district
4. Complete 120 hours of work experience or community service during the senior year
5. Earn 3 or more credits in a College Credit Plus course sometime during high school
6. Pass an Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) course and score at least a 3 on the AP Exam or a 4 on the IB Exam
7. Earn a Level 3 on each of the three WorkKeys tests
8. Earn an industry-recognized credential or group of credentials totaling at least 3 points on the State Board of Education approved system
9. Obtain an Ohio Means Jobs readiness seal
These nine additional opportunities raise numerous questions that will ultimately need to be answered by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). It is quite evident that school districts across Ohio will need clarification on applying these nine opportunities so that they are uniformly administered.
Some of those questions are as follows:
Q1: What constitutes "four, full-year senior classes”?
Q2: Will ANY class taken for a full year during the senior year count?
Q3: Will the ODE specify the type of classes that will be acceptable or is that at the discretion of the district?
Q4: Will the ODE provide guidelines for a Capstone Project?
Q5: What are the definitions of "work experience" and "community service”?
Q6: Will these activities need to be approved before they begin?
Q7: How will districts verify that the hours have been successfully completed?
It is likely that additional questions will arise as districts across Ohio communicate these requirements to this year's seniors and their parents/guardians. Once these questions are clarified, the state legislature will need to decide if these options for graduation will remain for classes beyond 2018. The debate will surely continue.