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Task Force considers draft diploma seal guidance

At its recent High School Graduation and Redesign Task Force meeting, the Ohio Department of Education shared draft diploma seal guidance and received terrific feedback from Task Force members. ODE staff is now refining guidance based on the Task Force’s feedback and will share revised versions at the November State Board of Education meeting. At that meeting, a Board subcommittee will review and make additional recommendations for changes. Those next draft version will be submitted to the full Board for a vote in December 2019. Once finalized, the guidance will officially be released to the public. For a sneak peak of draft guidance, read on…

Diploma Seals – What are they?

State law established new graduation requirements, including that all prospective graduates earn at least two diploma seals from a menu of 12 state and locally defined options. The purpose of these seals is for students to ‘demonstrate readiness’. The new graduation requirements apply to the Class of 2023 and beyond, but may optionally be used for students in the Classes of 2018 – 2022.

Draft Diploma Seal Guidance presented to the Task Force focused on the 9 State Seals. ODE plans to present draft guidance on the 3 local seals during the next Task Force meeting. Some of the state seal options, such as earning previously established honors diplomas or completing the Ohio Means Jobs Readiness Seal, were already pretty well-defined. This blog is focused on the three seals ODE had to develop.

*Official Disclaimer: The information below is specifically in regards to the draft guidance. EEP Peeps should understand that this guidance is highly likely to change as it goes through the review process. Once the review process is complete, we will share the final information. *

Technology Seal (Satisfy one)

  • Score 2 or higher on AP Computer Science A or AP Computer Science Principles; or
  • Score 3 or higher on ‘standard-level’ exam or 2 or higher on ‘higher-level’ exam in Computer Science, or Design Technology, or Information Technology in a Global Society;
  • Earn a B or higher in any 3-credit CCP course that meets the following requirements (as determined by district discretion):
    • Technology focus that engages students in applying tech tools and processes in real-world situations to effectively design solutions, solve problems and accomplish goals. Critical analysis of the impact of tech development and use, including ethical, legal and global impacts. Addresses tech knowledge and skills critical to college and workforce readiness.
  • ODE approved Technology Course (must meet all guidelines below)
    • Aligned to at least ONE set of HS standards: Technology, or Computer Science or Career Field Technical Content Standards
    • Tech focus must engage students in applying tech tools and processes in real-world situations to effectively design solutions, solve problems and accomplish goals.
    • Critical analysis of the impact of tech development and use, including ethical, legal and global impacts.
    • Addresses tech knowledge and skills critical to college and workforce readiness.
    • Address content that is at an ‘advanced’ high school level
    • 1.0 credit or equivalent
    • Demonstrate knowledge and skills developed through course within a culminating product that includes: document learning with evidence or progress, final product of original work, reflection, self evaluation and course instructor evaluation.

EEP Note: We LOVE how the the local tech course design honors problem-based learning, maker education and capstone experiences. Courses such as Inventionland Institute’s Innovation Course or Project Lead the Way appear to meet this requirement. Schools should also consider adapting the excellent capstone project tools for this seal also.

Industry Recognized Credential Seal

Finalization of this seal is likely to be the most fiercely debated. This is mainly because of the importance of Industry Recognized Credentials as BOTH a seal and an alternative demonstration of ELA/math competence. ODE has not yet identified the number of ‘points’ a student would need to earn for either the seal and the competence standard . The Task Force’s energetic conversation on the number of industry credential ‘points’ clearly showed there are very strong feelings on this topic.

While no determination on this was made, here is a sampling of the various points of view expressed.

  • Competence score should be less than 12, but more than 3. Across the state, CTC report cards shows that a max of 30% of CTC program completers currently earn 12 points. Asking students in a non-CTC high school to meet that expectation might be unreasonable.
  • There are a wide variety of 6-point credentials which are highly in-demand and achievable.
  • ODE should use the same number of points for both the competence and the seal requirements to keep it in line with other ‘double-dip’ options.
  • While there is no ‘point’ listed in state law for competence, it was the intent of the legislature that it would align with Ohio’s current use of 12 points.
  • Competence and seal ‘points’ are not required to be the same.
  • Seal ‘points’ can be less than 12.
  • 12 point industry credentials as the competence level are extremely burdensome for a non-CTC high school. One principal gave an example that last year they had 3 students working on this and it took 6 adults all year – nearly every day – to provide required support. Such a system is neither scalable nor sustainable.

Military Enlistment Seal

Similar to the industry credential seal, military enlistment has implications for both the seal and alternative demonstration of competence. The Department engaged recruiters from all military branches in this design. Recruiters stated that while the Department of Defense Form Enlistment/Reenlistment contract (DD Form 4) is the ‘official’ form, it is essential that schools know there are multiple steps required before completion of this form, including ASVAB test and Delayed Entry Program (DEP) contract. Regardless, students should begin the conversation and planning no later than the start of senior year, with a goal of signing the DD Form 4 by April 30. At a minimum, this process takes 14 – 21 days.

Participation in a JROTC program is another option for earning the military diploma seal, but not to demonstrate competence in English and math. The minimum amount of participation to qualify for the diploma seal was recommended to be two school years.

Task Force members identified several additional questions which require further discernment and research.

  • What does JROTC participation mean (earning credit, attendance, skills demonstrated)?
  • What about transfer students (new school doesn’t have JROTC)?
  • Many schools want JROTC programs but have been unable to get them. What support can ODE offer to help with this?
  • What happens if/when students say they are enlisting as a way to earn a diploma, but then change their minds?
  • We need a better understanding of the health, physical and other requirements for enlistment to avoid following this path with students who may score well on ASVAB but are otherwise ineligible.
  • Schools only receive ASVAB scores if student opts to send them. Are schools going to be required to collect those scores as part of the process of demonstrating competence?

ODE is working quickly to vet draft guidance and to ensure that they answer as many questions as possible before finalizing guidance. Once the guidance is final, then high schools and districts need to dig into planning for the transition.

To support schools in this transition, EnvisionEdPlus is partnering with ESCs and districts across the state to host regional Operation Graduation 2.0 Design Labs (OGDL 2.0). Register to join us at any OGDL 2.0 event this winter and spring where your high school team will:

  • Understand the different graduation options for the Classes of 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond;
  • Discover ways to develop or expand career and college pathways, industry credentials and apprenticeships in traditional high school settings that are essential for successful implementation; and,
  • Complete implementation plans that build on local strengths and create new opportunities preparing EACH student for career and college success.