Westerville Schools Prepare Class of 2018 for New High School Graduation Requirements

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As a result of House Bill 487, Ohio’s graduation requirements will change beginning with the class of 2018 (who are ninth grade students this fall).  The intent is to ensure that all students will be prepared for success in college and work.  When that happens, Westerville City Schools will be ready. 

“We have been expecting and preparing for these changes for a couple of years,” said Scott Reeves, Executive Director of Secondary Academic Affairs.  “Therefore, none of the assessment requirements are unexpected and align with the changes in our newly adopted state and local content standards.”

The biggest challenge for students, he said, will be overcoming “testing fatigue” and recovering from the additional loss of instructional time as a result.  “State mandated tests are not new to our students, but the next generation assessments are more robust and require much more time out of class and more testing sessions to complete than what students are used to.”

The class of 2017 will be the last group to take the current Ohio Graduation Tests.  After that, beginning with the class of 2018, pupils will still be required to complete coursework in a number of subjects, but will also have to take End of Course exams in Algebra I and Geometry or Integrated Math I and II; Physical Science; American History and American Government; and English I and English II.  Students studying Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or taking dual enrollment courses in Physical Science, American History or American Government may take assessments aligned to those courses in lieu of end-of-course exams to avoid double testing. 

The class of 2018 will have to meet one of the following three requirements:

  • Earn a cumulative passing score on seven End of Course exams.  The scores will be set by the State Board of Education.
  • Earn a “remediation-free” score on a nationally recognized college admission exam such as ACT or SAT.  The State of Ohio will pay for all 11th grade students to take the exam free of charge.
  • Earn a State Board of Education-approved, industry-recognized credential or state-issued license for practice in a career and achieve a score that demonstrates workforce readiness and employability on a job skills assessment.

Reeves said Westerville is still working through the process of transitioning to online assessments.  “We have made the decision to continue with paper-pencil tests for assessments where there are high-stakes consequences, such as high school End of Course Exams.  The logistics of actually administering and proctoring all of the assessments, in addition to the other assessments we currently give, is something we are starting to plan now.”

The assessments align with standards already being taught in the classroom, so there shouldn’t be any adjustments solely to prepare Westerville students for the tests.  However, the format of the tests will be different so teachers will most likely need to adjust some of their instructional practices so the state assessment format is not foreign to students.  “We anticipate more writing, and obviously a move to online assessments,” said Reeves.

Currently on the district website (www.wcsoh.org), the “links/forms/downloads” option on every middle and high school page includes a link to the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) information regarding the new requirements for the class of 2018.  However, there is still much to be decided by the state regarding certain specifics such as cut-off scores and other requirements.  “When those decisions are solidified,” concluded Reeves, “we will mass communicate with parents.  Until then, we are letting everybody know that changes are coming, but are referring them to information posted by the ODE.”