Group meets to discuss graduation

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Education’s own data indicated that more than one in four members of the Class of 2018 across the state will need additional support and intervention during their two remaining school years in order to graduate with their classmates.

Legislators, administrators, superintendents, principals, teachers and parents gathered at the ODE building on Wednesday as part of a workgroup which is collaborating on recommendations for graduation requirements for Ohio’s students. These recommendations will be submitted to the state board of education at its meeting April 10-11.

Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria and his staff led the discussion, which was heavy with data.

“It was a productive conversation that functioned exactly as it was designed,” DeMaria said, adding the composition of the group reflected the diversity of the state.

Ohio Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, is the state Senate’s representative on the Ohio Board of Education and is also a member of the workgroup. Lehner, who is from the Dayton area, believes the transition from earlier testing protocols to the current one may have been implemented too quickly, and that a temporary easing of the current required graduation point total of 18 may be necessary.

“Ohio’s students must graduate with a diploma, but that diploma needs to mean something,” she said, adding that the state’s graduates must be equipped to succeed in whatever path they choose after high school.

Lehner also pointed out during the meeting that thousands of Ohio graduates are enrolling in both two- and four-year colleges while still needing to take — and pay for — a number of remedial courses because they did not score high enough on either the ACT or SAT standardized tests.

“Something just doesn’t feel right here,” she added.

The workgroup was created at the December board meeting. The sponsor of the measure was District 8 BOE Representative Nancy Hollister. Hollister is not on the workgroup, but is closely monitoring its progress.

Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction, said the lines of communication must be open between all interested stakeholders so that what is done is in the best interests of Ohio’s children.

Representatives from Gov. John Kasich’s office referred questions to DeMaria. Kasich appoints 10 out of the 19 members on the state board of education, while the other nine are elected.

Lehner added she would like to see more money invested in early childhood education than Kasich’s initial budget proposal would provide.

Wednesday’s meeting was the third one for the workgroup and it is scheduled to meet four additional times before reporting the recommendations at the April state BOE meeting.