By Terry D. Wright
For the Daily Call
CASSTOWN — It was a very active evening Monday with the Miami East High School Class of 2018 participating in Freshmen Orientation. Pupils and their parents maneuvered through a much abbreviated version of the students’ regular classroom schedule. Periods were four minutes long with two minutes between class for the new students to find lockers, seek their next class or locate the restrooms.
Freshmen parents, however, had a different concern. “That concern,” as expressed by Miami East Superintendent Dr. Todd Rappold, was “what does my child need to graduate and earn a diploma?”
Rappold provided state documentation entitled Ohio New High School Graduation Requirements Beginning with the Class of 2018 for discussion with the Miami East Board of Education members during the August board meeting held on the same night and in the lecture hall of the high school building following the orientation.
The state information reported those same incoming freshmen will be the first class responsible for the new high school graduation requirements based under House Bill 487, which updated Ohio’s graduation requirements to “ensure that all students are ready for success in college and work,” the state’s brochure noted.
“The credits needed to graduate will remain the same,” Rappold said. “The current sophomore class will take the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) for the last time as juniors or seniors,” he added, noting that the OGT would be phased out in favor of the new state regulations. Under the new standards, beginning with the Freshmen Class, students will have a number of times when they can pass the exit exams concerning specific courses they need to graduate. However, the new standards as they are currently designed, will require the students to both pass the course and pass the exit exam. Full credit toward graduation and a diploma is not granted without passage of both the course and the specific exit exam for that subject.
“There will be 18 end-of-course exams after four years of high school,” Rappold said, noting that changes were coming frequently from the state as they go through the process of implementing the program. “It will be a tracking challenge,” Rappold said as students’ complete courses and take final exams in each subject, which all must be passed for graduation and a diploma.
Rappold also noted that many parents of the incoming freshmen class would encourage their students to begin taking the college readiness assessment test — ACT (originally the American College Test) early. Under that same state documentation, provided by the superintendent at the board meeting, it states: “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 Grade 11.” If a student gained a score of 24 on the ACT that pupil could meet the requirements for graduation earlier than by taking the numerous tests.
“Technical schools have a certification process,” said Rappold, “and we have to consider that.” Also, students moving in from outside the state have unique questions and circumstances that will have to be addressed, he said.
“You will be getting lots of questions from parents,” Rappold advised the school board members, “because not all of the specifics (of the new high school graduation requirements) are worked out (by the state).
Also on the agenda was the topic of teacher evaluations. A PowerPoint hard copy of what was presented to the teachers on Monday was given to the board members. Rappold said that the teachers seemed to be in general agreement with the process while noting that special flexibility was adjusted for potential retirees and those who miss extended period of class time as occasioned by illness or injury. “Seventy-five teachers were evaluated during this past year,” said the superintendent.
The first staff day was Tuesday. The first student day of classes for Miami East School District is today.