What students, parents need to know about Ohio’s new graduation requirements – News – Akron Beacon Journal

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The continuously changing rules around graduation requirements have confused parents and students for years, but Akron Public Schools leaders say the newest requirements should not derail any current high school students.

The legislature cemented the new requirements into law this spring, bringing as much certainty as possible for students in the coming years.

Students in the class of 2021 — this year’s rising juniors — and beyond will have to not only pass their classes but demonstrate both their competency in English and math and readiness in one of several post-graduation pathways.

The requirements line up with what APS students will already accomplish through the College and Career Academies, Executive Director of Secondary Schools Mark Black said.

“We feel like the legislation that came down is still aligned to what we have in place for our students,” Black said.

The previous system, which relied heavily on testing and especially proficiency in English, was “hurting students,” he said.

“We felt that was a little unfair, and it caused another barrier for students,” Black said.

The changes lessen the burden on testing to determine if students are ready to graduate, and gives them several career-based ways to prove their readiness for the world.

Here’s what high school students and parents need to know for each graduating class:


Incoming freshmen (Class of 2023 and beyond)

Students must satisfy all their normal course requirements, including the state minimum of 20 units. They will then have to demonstrate competency and readiness for college, career or their next steps after high school. There are a number of ways to demonstrate competency, but the main way will be to pass the state tests in English II and Algebra I. Students who don’t pass the first time will go through remediation, provided by the district, and must retake the test at least once. If they fail again, they have options that include taking a college-level course in the test subject they failed, enrolling in the military or a career-focused activity. For readiness, students have to earn two seals that allow them to show academic or technical knowledge, leadership or citizenship.


Incoming sophomores and juniors (Classes of 2021 and 2022)

Students in these grades have the option of meeting the new requirements or one of the three previous pathways, which involved earning a total of 18 points on seven different state tests, earning a certain score on the ACT or SAT or earning an industry certification.


Rising seniors (Class of 2020)

Seniors can also complete one of the three previously existing pathways to graduation, but have two additional options that were put in place temporarily and will drop off after this class. One of those options is to meet at least two of 10 criteria, such as having a 2.5 grade-point average for their junior and senior years. The other involves earning industry credentials.

Sarah Wilson, the college and career readiness administrator for the Ohio Department of Education, said the idea behind the new requirements is for students to align their passions and interests with their learning experience. The state, she said, had to consider whether students should be able to do more than demonstrate proficiency on a test.

“I think the answer was yes, there are other sets of skills and knowledge that are adequate and accurate demonstrations that a student is ready to move on to their next step after high school,” Wilson said.

The APS College and Career Academies fully launch through all high schools this fall. Freshmen started the programs at each school last year. By the end of ninth grade, APS students will pick a career pathway within the various academies offered at their school. They will still take their normal classes, but lessons will be taught as much as possible with that chosen career path in mind, with teachers working to make the material relatable.

Each pathway includes the opportunity to earn industry certifications that would translate directly to the workforce or higher education.

Black, with APS, said the goal will be for students to be able to meet the academic requirements to graduation. But the career-based pathways provide flexibility for students who don’t test well.

Counselors will meet with all students at the beginning of school to go over the new requirements and each student’s status.

“I don’t anticipate any problems,” Black said.


Contact reporter Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.

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