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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Show up, volunteer, get a diploma

Ohio raised graduation requirements to ensure students are ready for college: The class of 2018 is supposed to pass new end-of course exams in math, English, science and social studies. In addition, the new requirements called for graduates to  earn “remediation-free” ACT or SAT scores or earn an approved industry credential and pass a workforce readiness test.

But many students won’t make it, legislators feared. Now schools are hiring “interventionists” and scrambling to put weak students on alternative graduation pathways, reports Jeremy P. Kelley in the Dayton Daily News.

Students can graduate by meeting any two of nine standards that include 93 percent attendance senior year, a 2.5 GPA in at least four full-year senior-year courses, a senior-year “capstone” project, or 120 hours of senior-year work or community service.

Schools are creating “capstone” projects and planning to track community service hours, reports Kelley.

Schools will have a strong incentive to inflate grades to get seniors to a diploma, writes Fordham’s Jessica Poiner.

As a teacher in high-poverty urban schools, she “taught plenty of students who came to my class with high GPAs, worked very hard, and turned in all their assignments—yet still could not read and write proficiently.”

Chad Aldis and Aaron Churchill also worry about grade inflation and the incentive to approve “shoddy work” on capstone projects. But schools don’t have to fudge academic standards: Good attendance and volunteering will qualify students for diplomas.

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