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:    

Earn a State Minimum of 20 credits in Content-Specific Areas.
This includes 4 credits in English, 1/2 credit in health, 4 credits in math, 1/2 credit in physical education, 3 credits in science, 3 credits in social studies, and 5 credits in electives. In addition, students must receive instruction in economics and financial literacy, and complete at least two semesters of fine arts. In addition, students must also complete at least ONE additional test score option outlined below.
Complete at Least One of These Test Score Options.
Option 1. Ohio State Tests: Earn at least 18 points on seven end of course exams in English I, English II, Algebra I or Integrated Math I, Geometry or Integrated Math II, American Government, American History and Biology. Each exams is worth five points and students must earn a minimum of four points  in math, four points in English and six points on combined social studies and science tests.
Option 2. Industry Credential and Workforce Readiness: Earn a minimum of 12 points by obtaining a State Board of Education approved, industry recognized credential or group of credentials in a single career field and score a 13 on the Work Keys work readiness test.
Option 3. Remediation Free Scores in Math and English on ACT or SAT:  Remediation free scores are set by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) in conjunction with the Ohio Board of Regents by February 1 of the junior year of the class.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.
Additional Opportunities if Test Score Critria Not Met:
1. An attendance rate of 93% during senior year
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 sealThese 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.