Alternative ways set for students to graduate

By Kelsey Kimbler -

PREBLE COUNTY — For the Class of 2018, there are alternative ways to graduate if a student was unable to obtain the required points or test scores.

The original graduation requirements for this class stated a student must complete and earn a state minimum of 20 credits in specific subjects, but then the student also had to demonstrate what they learned through one of three pathways.

The first pathway required the student to earn 18 out of 35 points on seven end-of-course state tests. The student can earn up to five points on each test and needed a minimum of four points in math and English language arts, as well as six points across science and social studies.

The second path referred to students who, in Preble County, would attend Miami Valley Career Technical Center (MVCTC). It states that the student must earn an industry-recognized credential or a group of credentials totally 12 points and earn the required score on the WorkKeys test.

The last original path required students earn remediation-free scores in math and English language arts on the ACT or SAT.

“These alternative pathways were implemented because of the recent issue we’ve had statewide in regards to testing,” Twin Valley Community Schools Superintendent Robert Fischer explained. “This class of 2018 is the first graduating class to fall under the 18-point exemption. You have to earn your credits through your school and then you have to earn a certain point total on your testing.

“When the numbers were coming back, the state and schools started to look at the numbers and we realized we were going to have an issue with a lot of our kids not graduating. Through different advocacy groups and different conversations, myself and many of our local superintendents reached out to various groups. Then our state legislature passed the alternative pathways.”

Option one requires students to meet at least two of the below requirements, in addition to passing their curriculum-required courses and taking all seven end-of-course exams:

•Attendance rate of 93 percent during the 12th grade year.

•Earn a GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale in all courses completed during the 12th grade.

•Complete a capstone project during 12th grade that the district or school defines.

•During the 12th grade, complete a work or community service experience totaling 120 hours that the district or school defines.

•Earn three or more College Credit Plus credits at any time during high school.

•Earn credit for an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course and earn an AP exam score of three or higher or IB exam score of four or higher at anytime during high school.

•Earn a WorkKeys exam score of three or higher on each of three test sections.

•Earn a State Board-approved industry-recognized credential or credentials that equal at least three points.

•Meet OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal requirements.

Option two refers again to MVCTC. In addition to passing curriculum-required courses, taking all seven end-of-course tests, and finishing the career-technical program, the students must complete at least one of the below options:

•Earn a total score of proficient or better based on all career-technical exams or test modules.

•Earn an industry-recognized credential or credentials that equal 12 points.

•Complete a workplace experience totaling 250 hours with evidence of positive evaluations. .

According to Twin Valley Community Schools Director of Pupil Services Dan Lewis, eight percent of the TVS Class of 2018 could benefit from these alternative paths.

He added, “These are very obtainable for our students. They’re being based off of an expectation of being at school your senior year and I think that’s a reasonable thing. GPA your senior year is obtainable. They give you additional ones, like a lot of the kids have jobs and now they’re able to count those hours.

“Where the senior class sits now, the eight percent we’re worried about, those are very obtainable and all those kids should be able to meet two of those requirements by the end of the year.”

To Superintendent Fischer, these pathways are a way to relieve stress from what he believes are over-worked and over-stressed high school students.

“We’re trying to create college and career-readiness kids, but this is the only time these kids will be tested to this extreme. In college, the stress on those tests is nothing compared to what they are dealing with in high school. Plus, what they are dealing with today in their day to day life and now we’re adding one more thing to their stress level,” he said.

“Our kids are dealing with a lot of mental health issues and then you tell them they have to pass a series of tests. Kids have more things to deal with then whether or not they will be able to graduate, because they can’t pass a test.”

However, these alternative pathways are only for the Class of 2018 at this point and requirements for 2019 and beyond are uncertain.

“This is just for the Class of 2018. There has been nothing set for the Class of 2019, which is a concern, because we’re in a similar situation. Our Class of 2019 and 2020 is in the same situation, because we don’t have the tools to better prepare,” Fischer said.

“The only thing we have been told is that this is only for the Class of 2018. There has been little discussion of 2019 as of now, but it is starting to brew.”

Lewis added, “My hope would be that they have something in place prior to spring. We have juniors who are going to take end-of-course exams, because they are already in government. To me, this is the most frustrating part. If this were a set criteria then we could make decisions in the best interest of the kids.”

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH