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A behind the scenes look at education from pre-K to college in Northeast Ohio

Monday, November 26, 2012

Q&A: What's in store as Ohio replaces graduation test

By Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press

COLUMBUS (AP) — State education leaders recently agreed on a plan for replacing the Ohio Graduation Test with a nationally standardized college readiness test, such as the ACT, and 10 subject-area exams.

The decision to scrap the OGT and substitute a tougher series of tests will be a change felt by students and families across the state.

Here are a few questions and answers about what's happening and what to expect:

Q: When will the new testing requirements begin?
A: The college readiness test could be offered free to all Ohio sophomores as soon as next year under the timeline laid out by the state Education Department, Board of Regents and state school board.
That test and the 10 subject-area exams that are replacing the OGT will be required by the 2014-15 school year.

Q: How did this change come about?
A: The new testing regimen was first laid out in the 2009 state operating budget, then fine-tuned in different legislation passed last session.

Q: Why did it take until now to make the change?
A: Education Department spokesman John Charlton said it took some time to figure out how best to measure 12th grade achievement against college preparedness, and which state education agency would do what.
Tuesday's deal calls for requesting bids for companies to either provide or help develop the college-readiness tests, with available funding partially determining how quickly the test will be available.

Q: How will the subject-area tests work?
A: The series of end-of-course or end-of-year subject tests heading to Ohio students beginning in 2014 will be in core high school subjects of English I, II and III; Algebra I; Geometry; Algebra II; Biology; Physical Science; American History; and American Government. These will replace the single graduation test that's offered now.
Test scores are expected to be incorporated into a student's final grade in those courses, as well as being factored into a revised accountability system the state is developing.

Q: Why is Ohio making this change?
A: Ohio leaders have grown increasingly concerned about the number of Ohio high school graduates who receive a diploma yet are academically unfit to enter college.
Educators at both levels have pointed to a disconnect between the K-12 and higher education systems that all are now trying to address.
Institutions at both levels are taking steps to offer more targeted tutoring and remedial work in high school so that both students and colleges can spend less time and money on makeup college classes that don't count toward a degree.
It's all part of an effort to boost the state's college graduation rate of 26 percent, which is well below the national average.

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