Back in the summer of 2014, the Ohio legislature approved a New! Improved! plan for measuring student achievement. Two years later, it's not looking so good.
The plan was to expand over and above the old Ohio Graduation Test, which would be replaced with seven other tests.
Four of the new exams will be based on the new multi-state Common Core standards that Ohio is starting to use in all schools. All are in the final stages of development – many just finished having trials across the state or nation this spring – and the scores that students need to pass are not set yet.
Here's how the whole thing shook out per the Department of Education:
While the exact scores that students need on the tests have not been
set, [Damon] Asbury, [director of legislative services for the Ohio School Boards Association] said that's a "technical issue" that can be worked out
later, now that the structure of requirements is set.
Technical issue, indeed. Setting cut scores is always THE issue in figuring test scores.
Ohio was going to depend on the PARCC to fill in a couple of those testing spots, but then the students of Ohio actually took the PARCC, and nobody was happy about how that worked out-- so in 2015 the state of Ohio became yet another state to bail out of PARCC's sinking malformed ship. Since they had already hired American Institutes of Research, a rival test manufacturer, to provide other tests, AIR seemed like a logical step.
Through this year (2017), Ohio students were just following the old game plan (with some new options). But the Class of 2018, in a modified version of the 2014 plan, must get their credits and then either earn the required number of points on the exit exams OR earn an industry-recognized credential OR earn a remediation-free score on the SAT or ACT. Students can earn up to five points per exit exam.
Now Ohio superintendents are warning of a graduation apocalypse. Students are coming up way short on the scores needed on the new standardized tests.
Olmstead Falls Superintendent Jim Lloyd expects the new requirements to cut his graduation rate from 95% to 65%, and that those scary numbers will be the norm across the state. He is leading "a rally at the statehouse Tuesday morning of an estimated 200
superintendents, plus school board members from across Ohio, to call
attention to this danger. They also plan to ask the state school board
and legislature to seek more input from educators before creating new
education laws and requirements."
What?! Input from educators before they create more education laws and requirements?! That's crazy talk.
As with all test-driven reform, what Ohio legislators expect to accomplish is unclear. Do Ohio legislators believe that their schools are universally run by liars, fools, and incompetents, rendering an Ohio diploma meaningless? And if so, is there some sort of data suggesting that one third of Ohio's
residents are illiterate and un-employable, thereby providing evidence that the
high school diplomas they receive are really a lie? Is someone figuring that by denying more students diplomas and thereby making them harder to employ, that will somehow provide a benefit to the state?
What is the goal here, Ohio? Punish teachers? Punish students? Provide "proof" that all public schools should be closed and replaced with charters?
If the legislature has half a brain, they will back away from this plan. Of course, even if they do, a whole bunch of Ohio students have already been thrown into panic and uncertainty about their own future. Work hard and stay in school kids, and one day, you might graduate, or you might not. Who knows? but work hard anyway.