The continually changing rules around graduation requirements have confused parents and students for years.
The legislature cemented new requirements into law this spring, bringing as much certainty as possible for students in the coming years.
Students in the class of 2021 — this year’s rising juniors — and beyond will have to not only pass their classes but demonstrate both their competency in English and math and readiness in one of several post-graduation pathways.
The previous system, which relied heavily on testing and especially proficiency in English, was “hurting students,” said Mark Black, executive director of secondary schools for Akron Public Schools.
“We felt that was a little unfair, and it caused another barrier for students,” Black said.
The changes lessen the burden on testing to determine if students are ready to graduate, and gives them several career-based ways to prove their readiness for the world.
Here’s what high school students and parents need to know for each graduating class:
(Class of 2023 and later)
Students must meet all their normal course requirements, including the state minimum of 20 units. They will then have to demonstrate competency and readiness for college, career or their next steps after high school. There are a number of ways to demonstrate competency, but the main way will be to pass the state tests in English II and Algebra I. Students who don’t pass the first time will go through remediation, provided by the district, and must retake the test at least once. If they fail again, they have options that include taking a college-level course in the test subject they failed or enrolling in the military or a career-focused activity. For readiness, students have to earn two seals that allow them to show academic or technical knowledge, leadership or citizenship.
juniors (2021 and 2022)
Students in these grades have the option of meeting the new requirements or one of the three previous pathways, which involved earning a total of 18 points on seven different state tests, earning a certain score on the ACT or SAT or earning an industry certification.
Rising seniors (2020)
Seniors can also complete one of the three previously existing pathways to graduation but have two additional options that were put in place temporarily and will drop off after this class. One of those options is to meet at least two of 10 criteria, such as having a 2.5 grade-point average for their junior and senior years. The other involves earning industry credentials.
Sarah Wilson, the college and career readiness administrator for the Ohio Department of Education, said the idea behind the new requirements is for students to align their passions and interests with their learning experience. The state, she said, had to consider whether students should be able to do more than demonstrate proficiency on a test.
“I think the answer was yes, there are other sets of skills and knowledge that are adequate and accurate demonstrations that a student is ready to move on to their next step after high school,” Wilson said.