Senate committee OKs Ohio graduation changes for seniors, juniors

The Ohio Senate Education Committee on Wednesday approved alternative graduation requirements for the Classes of 2019 and 2020 that would allow those students to earn a diploma without passing state tests.

The bill still needs approval from the full Senate and the Ohio House, as well as the signature of Gov. John Kasich to become law. Legislators said last week they expect all those steps to happen before Christmas.

NOVEMBER: Legislative leaders say graduation changes nearly certain

RELATED: School leaders talk about graduation changes

The graduation changes were added to House Bill 491 as an amendment. The bill would give current seniors exactly the same graduation options that the Class of 2018 had. Students would still have to pass the required 20 classroom credits, take all state “end-of-course” tests and retake any English or math tests where they scored a 1 or 2 on the 5-point scale.

But instead of needing certain scores on those tests, students could earn a diploma by meeting two of nine unrelated standards that include good senior-year attendance, strong senior-year classroom grades, work/service hours and a variety of other options. Students who already passed state tests would still qualify to graduate via that route.

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The amendment sets largely the same graduation alternatives for the Class of 2020, with a few tweaks. Work/service hours and “capstone projects” for Class of 2020 students would have to meet standards set by ODE, and the strong classroom grades option would apply to courses taken in both junior and senior year.

The changes to the graduation requirements are being considered because of fears that many more students would not earn diplomas if they had to pass new harder state exams to do so.

JULY 2017: State OKs softer graduation rules for Class of 2018

DECEMBER 2017: Graduation rates rise; Ohio ranks low for black students

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