Blog Posts, Ohio Graduation Series

Operation Graduation: Get ready for Class of 2020

Ohio is in the midst of significant changes to high school graduation requirements.  This winter, the Ohio legislature approved new graduation options for the classes of 2019 and 2020, allowing more time for the State Board of Education and legislature to plan for the new requirements for the classes of 2021 and beyond.  Since the new options for the Class of 2019 were not fully approved until midway through the school year, high schools focused on preparing students to achieve these requirements, with little time to think ahead to Class of 2020 requirements.  Read on for a few tips for your summer planning, and consider signing up for one of our Operation Graduation Design Labs for more help this summer.

Ohio’s Class of 2020 – New Graduation Requirements Link Learning and the Future

What many do not realize is that while the Class of 2020 options provide greater flexibility for determining readiness to earn a diploma, significant system changes might be necessary to leverage it. School leaders and families will need to engage differently with their students and the community to ensure our rising seniors are able to earn their diplomas next year.  

What are the requirements?

  1. All students must earn state minimum of 20 credits in specific subjects (local districts may require more)
  2. All students must demonstrate their learning.

To demonstrate learning, students for several years have had these three options:

  • Ohio’s State Tests: Earn 18 of 35 points on state end-of-course exams;
  • Industry Credentials and WorkKeys: Earn an industry recognized credential or group of credentials totally 12 points and score a 14 or higher on WorkKeys assessment; or
  • Remediation Free Score: Earn qualifying scores on the ACT or SAT.

But now, for the Class of 2020 ONLY, seniors may alternatively demonstrate learning by meeting at least two of these requirements:

  • GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (during 11th and 12th grades);
  • Capstone project in 12th grade that meets ODE requirements to be released by May 31;
  • 120 hours of work OR community service experience that meets ODE requirements to be released by May 31;
  • Earn 3 or more College Credit Plus credits while in high school;
  • Earn AP or IB credit and meet or exceed required exam score (AP = 3, IB = 4);
  • Earn WorkKeys exam score of 3 on each test section;
  • Earn an industry recognized credential OR credentials that total at least 3 points; or
  • Meet OhioMeansJobs (OMJ) Readiness Seal requirements.

All high schools track GPA, College Credit Plus and AP/IB. Many high schools also now track WorkKeys and industry credential obtainment.  However, very few high schools have systems in place for capstone projects, work/service experience or the OMJ Readiness Seal.

How many youth really need these options?

This spring, Mahoning County Educational Service Center surveyed the 22 districts participating in the Mahoning Valley Business Advisory Council to identify the extent to which their schools will likely need support to address the new graduation options.  The ESC learned:

  • 904 rising seniors are at risk for on-time graduation;
  • 84% of at-risk seniors live in communities with 40% or higher community poverty;
  • The average number of  at-risk seniors attending low poverty (less than 40%) schools is 20;
  • The average number of at- risk seniors attending high poverty (40% or higher) schools is 40;
  • The four largest, high poverty districts average 112 at-risk seniors; and
  • The four smallest, low-poverty districts average 22 at-risk seniors.

These data affirm that schools located in suburban or low-poverty communities will have fewer students who need personalized plans to obtain a diploma using the new options.  Creating systems to help their struggling students meet these requirements will require creativity, but the work will not be overwhelming.

However, schools in more urban and rural communities, especially those serving high numbers of economic or educationally disadvantaged youth, and English Learners, will be tremendously impacted.  

Operation Graduation? What Can Schools Do to Prepare Students for New Options?

Run your data early and often!  Principals need to continuously track how many students need the new options now, and keep reviewing student progress throughout the year.  Marion’s Harding High School has monthly meetings where they track progress of all 170 seniors.

Develop Student Success Plans (SSP) and USE them for Continuous Monitoring. The state has required SSPs for several years, but most schools do not actually use them to truly monitor progress.  This document can be developed with at-risk seniors and then monitored regularly to keep students on track. Harding High School also uses its own version of an SSP to ensure students have access to industry credential programs, WorkKeys tutoring and informal mentors to support at-risk seniors.    

Provide WorkKeys tutoring and practice.  Our friends at Mahoning County Career and Technology Center shared that WIN software is a great resource to help students improve WorkKeys scores.

Build on Your Strengths. Liberty High School has a strong CBI Program and is planning to expand this type of support so more seniors can participate in work or service learning.  Canal Winchester, Graham and Kenton High Schools have internship and capstone programs that can be scaled or modified to meet the new requirements. Berkshire High School uses the Inventionland Institute Innovation (ILI) course.  EEP staff have previewed the ODE capstone experience rubric and believe ILI can be easily adapted to meet Ohio’s capstone experience requirement.

Advanced Planning.  EnvisionEdPlus is hosting a series of Operation Graduation Design Labs across Ohio this summer to help high school leadership teams design strategies to implement Ohio’s NEW graduation requirements for the Class of 2020.  Operation Graduation Design Labs are in partnership with school districts already implementing strategies that can be replicated and scaled to meet Ohio’s new graduation options. Choose any one of our 5 Design Lab locations because they all follow the same agenda with the same content.

 REGISTER HERE to attend the Design Lab closest to you.

Do you have questions?  Do you need support? Just give me a shout!

~Michele Timmons, EnvisionEdPlus President

(michele@envisionedplus.com 614.893.7341)