I have spent the better part of the last three years corresponding with you, and other legislators about a problem with the graduation requirement. As a teacher in an urban high school, Elyria, I felt that I had some insight on the issue. My students were in danger of not graduating, largely due to an unfair and unnecessary assessment system. They still are. Unfortunately, the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the State School Board, has been reluctant to listen, to provide a permanent solution, though a legitimate attempt to assist the class of 2018 was included in the budget bill.
All available evidence provided by the Ohio Department of Education, regardless of their positive spin, indicates that this year’s juniors are in essentially the same situation as last year’s. Statistics indicate that only 65% of this year’s juniors are likely or highly likely to graduate under the assessment system. As you would imagine, the situation is worse in Ohio’s impoverished urban centers.
It is long past time to change the current system. In January of this year, I wrote the following, and I would encourage you to revisit it, and move forward for the sake of Ohio’s students.
If we are to move toward excellence in education, we should be more concerned with providing opportunities for students, as opposed to doling out punishments. In that, education on the whole needs to become less reliant on the weight of standardized test scores which have always, though especially recently, provided negligible data. If it is philosophically impossible to eliminate standardized tests as a determinant for graduation (federal law does not require it), then they should at least be limited to something akin to the OGT. In combination with this, the point totals necessary for graduation should be lowered AND additional ways of earning points should be established. Standardized tests do not measure, nor do they promote, career or college readiness. They also do not begin to convey the level of work that is required of a student through the process of their education. Offering points for active participation in student groups, service organizations, taking on leadership roles, internships or employment, course grades, extracurriculars and otherwise should be considered.
Yours in education,
Matthew T. Jablonski