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Education

Ohio Graduation Test hurdle for some APS seniors

5/29/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

The Ohio Department of Education has mandated that high school seniors must pass the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) to receive a diploma.

At the APS Board of Education meeting May 27, members heard that as of May 27, 100 Akron Public Schools (APS) seniors have not passed all five sections of the test — reading, writing, math, science and social studies — along with earning the required 21 course credits.

The data are not final yet, however, because Ohio’s General Assembly has provided a loophole, an alternative pathway for a student who has scored a passing 400 on four of the sections of the test and at least a 392 on the fifth, said Director of Secondary Schools Mark Black.

If that student has completed 21 credits, has at least a 2.5 GPA in the subject area of the test not passed and has 97 percent attendance in high school, he or she may graduate, he said.

This allows some students who have done well in their courses to graduate with their class. For those not able to reach these requirements, attendance is usually the main obstacle, Black said.

Board member the Rev. Curtis Walker pointed out that last year, the school board instituted a fall graduation so those who passed the final section of the test over the summer could get their diplomas.

Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams said the students start taking the OGT in 10th grade. District officials track every student who is not on target to pass and graduate and work with their families, she said.

In other testing news, many third-graders are no longer at risk of being held back next year because of the state’s third-grade reading guarantee.

Mary Outley-Kelly, director of elementary schools, explained the percentage of APS third-graders at risk of retention has dropped from 23 percent to 4.8 percent. This was a result of the state’s adjusting the cut-off score on the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test and numerous more students passing the test that was given again recently, she said.

Staff members are working to contact the at-risk students’ parents to get them to enroll their children in the free Reading Academy offered this summer, she said. They are also working on arranging transportation for those who qualify, she said.

Former Akron City Councilman Ernie Tarle addressed the board to announce a new summer reading program that he and state Rep. Zack Milkovich (D-District 35) are launching.

Much of the achievement gap between inner city and suburban children is caused by the learning loss over the summer, Tarle said. He and Milkovich have founded a nonprofit organization to fund a free five-week pilot reading program for 30 second-graders, he said.

Parental involvement is important, Tarle said, so the program will begin with sessions for parents on how they can help their children’s reading, beginning yesterday, May 29. For more information, call 330-810-1976.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for June 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St.

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