Britney Worch is too excited about starting high school to think about graduation.
But when the freshman at Reynoldsburg High School’s Encore Academy listened to school leaders describe the new graduation requirements last week, she had to consider it.
“It sounds overwhelming, but I think it will keep me on top of things,” she said.
Ohio lawmakers updated state graduation requirements that take effect with the Class of 2018, many of whom started class today.
Nine central Ohio districts — Bexley, Big Walnut, Delaware, Gahanna-Jefferson, Grandview Heights, Olen-
tangy, Pickerington, Reynoldsburg and Westerville — opened their doors to students today.
Starting with this year’s freshmen, high-school students no longer have to take the Ohio Graduation Test. Instead, they must take seven end-of-course exams over their four years in high school. They also will be the first class for which the state will pay $38 for the ACT college-entrance exam during their junior year — a change that sparked wide-eyed awe for at least one student.
“It’s nice to know we won’t have to pay for the test,” said Jourdan Bowers, who attended Encore Academy’s freshman orientation night last week.
But her mother, Lindsay Jackson, cautioned her from getting too excited.
“You still have to pass the test,” she told her.
Central Ohio high schools have been spreading the word about the new requirements, discussing them at orientation gatherings and in school newsletters. But school leaders say they have their own questions about the details that will determine how students can graduate.
Under the new requirements, students must achieve a “graduation score” on the end-of-course exams, or earn a “remediation-free” score on a college admission exam such as the ACT, or earn credentials or a license for a job or trade to show they are employable.
The state has not yet determined the score on the end-of-course tests for English 1 and 2, geometry, algebra I, physical science, American history and American government. And officials haven’t specified the job-skills assessment that students will have to take.
“It makes you a little uneasy not to know what to expect,” Jackson said.
School administrators and counselors have promised to make sure students will be ready for the tests and have multiple options to help them earn their high-school diplomas.
During freshman orientation at Olentangy Orange High School last week, Principal Todd Meyers focused his comments on assuring students that teachers are “going to take care of you academically” during their time there.
He plans to explain the new requirements in a Class of 2018 gathering on Friday.
Jack Betz, an Olentangy Orange freshman who learned about the changes from his father, isn’t worried.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” he said. “We have great teachers, and they will teach us what we need to learn to pass those requirements.”
At Encore in Reynoldsburg, D’lacy Bass picked up his schedule, took a photo for his school ID and reconnected with familiar faces during orientation. He didn’t have much to say about graduation or the new requirements. But he’s not too concerned; he’s just happy to start high school.
His older sister, who attended the gathering with him, smirked when she learned of the new requirements, especially the end-of-course exams.
D’lasia Bass, who will be a junior at Eastland-Fairfield Career Center this fall, took seven similar exams over the past two years because Reynoldsburg is among a handful of Ohio districts that piloted end-of-course exams.
Is her brother going to be ready?
She shook her head.
“It’s going to be hard for him,” she said.
By Charlie Boss - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services