CLEVELAND — The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has released new graduation guidelines in light of the school closures across the state prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. On March 30, Gov. Mike DeWine extended his school building closure through May 1.
The ODE said it’s now necessary to provide flexibility in meeting graduation requirements. When awarding diplomas, the department of education has to determine two things: a student’s eligibility and if the student has successfully completed the curriculum.
1. Determine a student’s eligibility
The department of education said students are eligible for local graduation flexibility, but not necessarily entitled to graduation, through Sept. 30, 2020, if they meet the following requirements:
- Enrolled in 12th grade in the 2019-2020 school year
- OR was on track to graduate in 2019-2020 regardless of the graduation cohort in which the student is included
- And had not completed the requirements for a high school diploma
- 2. Determine if the student has completed the curriculum
Gov. DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly have allowed schools and districts to award diplomas to students who have successfully completed the curriculum requirements while forgoing all other additional requirements for a diploma. Additional requirements for a diploma include conducting assessments, completing work or community service experience or earning an industry-recognized credential.
The window of flexibility granted to graduating students and school districts will be extended through Sept. 30.
Determine if a student has completed each course
Because of the varied nature of instruction during the school-building closure, the state said schools and districts have discretion in awarding credit. Schools should ensure fair and consistent practices when making decisions on awarding credit.
The state said principals should rely significantly on teachers to determine whether a student has completed the course. Teachers can consider all factors that normally would apply, including test course, assignments, student participation and engagement in remote learning.
The ODE used the following scenarios as examples:
- A student had a C average in Senior English up until the time the school-building closed. During the closure period, the student was diligent in completing assignments and otherwise continuing to participate in whatever educational services were offered. This student would likely be considered to have completed the course and would earn credit.
- A student was failing Senior English up until the time the school-building closed. During the closure period, the student made no effort to engage in assignments or otherwise continue to participate in education services offered. This student would be considered to have not completed the course and would not earn credit.
- A student had a C average in Senior English up until the time the school-building closed. During the closure period, the student was not engaged in work and participated minimally in educational services offered. This student’s principal would need further consultation with teachers and counselors to determine whether to award credit.
The state is leaving it up to the local school district to determine a grading policy such as having the option to maintain a traditional letter grade structure or shifting to a pass/fail approach.
The flexible graduation requirements for 2020 only depend on credit earned for a course and not the grade earned by the student.
Districts are also asked to remember that a student’s grades and GPA determine future opportunities such as NCAA athletic participation and college scholarship awards.
A student can earn course credit through credit flexibility. This plan allows students to earn units of high school credit based on demonstration of subject area competency instead of, or in combination with, completing hours of classroom instruction. The credit flexibility is an option for seventh and eighth grade students to meet curriculum requirements to earn high school credit.
Determine whether a student has successfully completed the curriculum requirements
The state said a school principal will work with teachers and counselors to identify whether a student has performed satisfactorily on the course curriculum.
No other requirements that applied to the class of 2020 or earlier classes will need to be met such as test scores, capstone project, work or community service experience and industry-recognized credential.
Find the full new set of guidelines here, including the Individualized Education Program and documentation of school's decision regarding a student's graduation status here.