Saturday, July 1, 2017

Graduation Problem: It Ain't Over 'til It's Over.

Much as I'd like to celebrate the inclusion of the Graduation Workgroup's recommendation in the biennial budget signed yesterday by Governor Kasich, I cannot. Until I'm able to look my students in the eye and say that the class of 2018 is being treated equitably in the face of an atrocious and volatile high stakes assessment system, I will not celebrate. Until I see an actual analysis of the probable impact of the recommendations based on real data from Ohio school districts, I refuse to claim a victory. Until I can speak to my students of last year, the class of 2019, and next year's sophomores in my American History classes, the class of 2020, and say that we've come to a legitimate long term solution to the graduation requirement that seeks to promote educational opportunities instead of punish students, I see little reason to celebrate.

As much as I am tired, and would like to call it over, it's not over. Because that is my belief, I am turning my attention to the Ohio School Board who meets July 10th and 11th, and has some influence on these things. If you feel the same way, then I encourage you to do the same. Below you will find the letter I penned this morning, and here is a link to their contact information.

Board Member

Despite the recent inclusion of the Graduation Workgroup’s recommendation in the biennial budget, there are still very real concerns regarding the high school requirement. First, there has been no study to indicate how many students will be positively impacted by the aforementioned action. Please demand a study by the Ohio Department of Education to provide a data driven, district to district analysis of graduation status after the spring tests for the classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020, as well as probable effects of the Workgroup’s plan for 2018. Second, please consider taking even more expansive action to protect the class of 2018 by providing a legitimate safe harbor or dramatically lowering the required points to graduate. Finally, please begin looking at a long term solution to the graduation problem. While I understand that an ultimate solution will take legislative action, the state board should be proactive and begin to reconsider the fact that Ohio is one of only 13 states to require assessments in order to graduate. Our requirement for high school kids is at least excessive and too reliant upon high stakes assessments, and in the minds of many educators like myself, completely unnecessary and without merit.

Thank you for your consideration and work on behalf of Ohio’s students.

Matthew T. Jablonski

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