PIQUA – Miami County’s school district superintendents and boards of education are banding together to voice their disapproval of House Bill 487, an education reform bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in June.
Under the new mandate, to graduate, students must earn a certain number of points on their end-of-course exams, along with the required number of course credits.
According to Piqua City Schools Superintendent Dwayne Thompson, the law is “unfair” and will have a negative impact on some students’ chances of receiving a diploma.
“Nearly 50 percent of the 2018 graduates (statewide) are not on track to graduate based on these new graduation requirements,” Thompson said during the district’s board of education meeting on Thursday. “In Piqua, it’s 26 percent of our students who are currently not on track.”
The district’s graduation rate is currently 84 percent, Thompson said. With the new requirements, that number would drop to 76 percent.
Provisions of House Bill 487 include:
• New graduation requirements effective for students entering 9th grade after July 1, 2014, college admission assessment for all 11th graders, and seven end-of-course examinations to replace OGT.
• End-of-course examinations shall be physical science, American history, American Government, English language arts I and II, algebra I and geometry. Physical science, American history and American government examinations may be replaced by AP, IB and dual enrollment examinations for students enrolled in those courses.
• The State Board shall establish a method to calculate a cumulative score for end-of-course examinations.
Thompson also expressed concern about the timeliness of the end-of-course exam results, noting that it could create an issue when a student fails an exam, but has already moved on to another course.
“For example … if they take the algebra exam, it takes (until) that following year in October to receive the data and by then, they’re already in the next math class – geometry, for example,” Thompson explained. “So if they didn’t pass algebra, they’re currently in geometry and trying to pass that, now we have to go back and do remediation for algebra.
“We believe that it (should be) more than just one day of testing; there’s 180 days that go into that year of learning for that student, and to have seven end-of-course exams determine that just doesn’t add up,” Thompson said.
“We want input, we want some changes, we want our students to not be penalized for a test.”
To that end, the county’s education administrators have drafted a letter calling for H.B. 487 to be repealed and replaced. The letter will be sent to the state school board and superintendent, legislators in the House and Senate, and various media, among others.
“We want them to reconsider the bill and we would like to offer input,” Thompson said, emphasizing that the goal is not to do away with standards, but to implement more requirements that are more conducive to student achievement.
“We want them to repeal and replace the bill with one that makes sense and has the best interests of the students at heart.”
In other business during Thursday’s brief meeting, the board approved a fund-to-fund transfer of $1.5 million from the permanent fund to the general fund to make improvements at the high school.
The next meeting of the Piqua City Schools board of education will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 15, at the BOE offices, located at 719 E. Ash St.
Live and recorded streams of BOE meetings can be viewed at www.piqua.org/BoardofEducation.aspx.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341