FAIRBORN – The Fairborn City Schools District is focusing on recent legislative changes regarding high school graduation requirements in the State of Ohio and is working with high school seniors to accomplish those new requirements.
“The most recent changes have created quite a controversy because the most recent projections show that 25 percent of high school seniors statewide will not graduate this year,” District Superintendent Mark North told school board member during the Nov. 2 school board meeting. “It is staggering, and the new standards we see this year will continue to increase.”
North noted that the parents of high school seniors in the school district would be promptly notified regarding the changes and higher state expectations because the new requirements take effect with the Class of 2018.
“We will be constantly communicating with parents this year and putting support systems into place to help the number of students who are in danger of not graduating,” he said.
“Right now, the projected number of students in the school district that are not eligible to graduate at this point matches the state’s average of 25 percent,” said North. “We have a lot of work to do. Our students have a lot of work to do. Their parents have a lot of work to do, and if we all do it together, we can reduce that number significantly.”
Dr. Sue Brackenholf, director of curriculum and instruction at Fairborn City Schools, told school board members that high school officials are spending a tremendous amount of time in planning how they will be implementing the new graduation requirements and providing a personalize graduation plan for those students who are in jeopardy of not meeting the new graduation requirements.
Amy Gayheart, principal at Fairborn High School, explained that in order to graduate, students must complete 21 course credits and take seven end-of-course exams, two in English, two in math, two in social studies and one in science.
Students in the class of 2018 and beyond must meet one of three pathways to obtain a high school diploma. They must earn at least 18 cumulative points on seven end-of-course state exams, achieve a “remediation-free” ACT or SAT score, or earn an industry-recognized credential and a WorkKeys score of 13. Additionally, every student in the Class of 2018 and beyond will have the opportunity to take a nationally-recognized college admission exam free of charge in their junior year.
Gayheart said 57 out of 228 high school seniors who will be graduating in 2018 from Fairborn High School are in danger of not graduating because they have not scored a minimum of 18 points on the end-of-course exams. She also broke down her data into subcategories and noted that these students have been offered a remediation class during the first semester and tutoring throughout the month of November. Those students will then be retested in December.
Gayheart also pointed out that 48 seniors, who are attending the Greene County Career Center, have not yet scored at least 18 cumulative points on the seven end-of-course exams. Administrators and faculty at the career center are providing tutoring and online intervention to these students as well.
“Breaking it down further, we have 13 seniors who have between .5 and three credits deficiency to graduate and nine seniors who have to pass absolutely everything. We have eight students who have both credit deficiencies and have not cumulated enough points on their end-of-course exams,” said Gayheart. “We are getting ready to roll out an online credit recovery program, and we will utilize that to help those students who have fallen behind over the course of the year.”
According to Gayheart, high school counselors spent the month of October conducting individualized meetings with seniors to review their current standing for graduation. School officials are also preparing to send out testing notifications to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
“Along with that, we will be notifying students who need to pursue an alternate pathway and their parents, and we will be having meetings with these students and their parents to make sure that they understand the requirements of that pathway,” Gayheart said.
Two additional graduation options are available for the Class of 2018 only. These alternative options provide an opportunity for those students who do not otherwise meet one of the three existing pathways to graduation to earn a diploma.
Alternate pathway for graduation contracts are due by Dec. 1. Gayheart said high school counselors and administrators would be checking in with these students on a weekly basis. If the students do not pass the exams in December, they will have to finish the alternate pathway in May.
“We are very in-tune as to what our seniors’ needs are and what parents and students need to know. We are trying very hard to get everyone to graduation,” said Gayheart. “I tell students on a daily basis that I want to see you in May at the Nutter Center, and we will all work together to see that happen.”
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.