OHIO (WKBN) – As parents of students prepare for them to return to school, some things have changed this year at nearly every grade level.
There are many small changes, so let’s focus on three of them; changes to testing, graduation requirements and attendance.
According to Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction with the Ohio Department of Education, one thing that every school should have done, or be doing, is updating their policies on attendance.
“The old idea was that, hey, if a student misses a lot of school, what do you do? You expel them. Well, that doesn’t make any sense,” DeMaria said.
The new policies will be looking for ways to turn absenteeism around at every grade level by getting to the root of the problem.
“What can we do to help them, you know, figure it out? Help their family figure it out so again, that they are there and present rather than, you know, penalizing them with yet excluding them even further from those academic pursuits,” DeMaria said.
One of the benefits of keeping kids in school is it usually leads to a diploma, but recent changes to graduation requirements set by the state revealed a problem.
“In that transition, it was found that this first class that’s subject to these requirements, the class of 2018, was having some challenges meeting the test requirements for those expectations,” DeMaria said.
In order for some seniors to qualify for graduation, the department of education is offering special pathways.
“For many students, this won’t be a worry — they have their points locked up. They had them locked up last year and it’s not a big deal. But there are some who are still, you know, coming to school; being diligent about taking their classes; passing their classes; but weren’t quite seeing the score level that we had hoped, and they’re gonna have some additional opportunities,” DeMaria said.
Melissa Rura, a counselor with Columbiana High School, said teachers are altering course material in the math an English classes to help students succeed on EOC exams.
“We’ve kind of noticed that those are the two tested areas where our students have scored very short in their points. We have implemented those and we are going through testing points right now to get those students in those classes for extra help so they can retest in the fall and again in the spring if needed.”
Another change this year is the elimination of fourth grade and sixth grade social studies assessments.
“It will be something that will, you know, maybe even change the dynamic a little bit, in schools and those subject areas and what have you,” DeMaria said.
When changes occur at Ohio schools over the summer break, DeMaria says the goal is to make them subtle enough as not to disrupt the students learning the following year.