Ohio’s New Testing Regime Will Assess College Readiness

Ohio education officials announced last week that they will replace their current high school graduation exam with a tougher test that will gauge how ready high school graduates are to tackle college-level work. In addition, students will also be required to pass a series of end-of-course exams prior to graduation.

The goal of the new testing regime is to make sure that students who are leaving Ohio high schools are either college or career ready upon graduation — something that the previous graduation exam didn’t measure. The new subject exams will first be given to high school sophomores during the 2014-15 academic year.

“This is a major step forward in our reform efforts to ensure all Ohio students have the knowledge and skills necessary to leave school remediation-free and ready for their postsecondary experience in higher education or work-force training,” said Michael Sawyers, Ohio’s acting superintendent of public instruction.

Education officials have been working on a replacement for the Ohio Graduation Test for two years, ever since they were directed to do so by state lawmakers. The exam, which has long been thought of as too easy, only measured skills gained up until 11th grade. Its lack of rigor was apparent in the fact that more than 40% of high school graduates in the state ended up needing remedial work when they got to college.

Sawyers, speaking jointly with the Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro, said that the new college-readiness exam, along with the ten subject tests, will fix the problem and will finally allow officials to determine if students are leaving school sufficiently prepared. The course exams will cover subjects like mathematics, English, social studies and science.

“Our goal is to advance degree completion in the state. One of the key ways to accomplish this goal is to ensure students are college- and career-ready. Eliminating the OGT and replacing it with a better gauge of college readiness will help students to be more successful,” Petro said.

The new testing system will go into effect at the same time as teachers will begin teaching a curriculum that conforms to the Common Core Standards. The subject exams will test the knowledge required under a CCS-conforming curriculum.

How the college-readiness exam will be put together isn’t quite clear. There is anticipation of a bidding process open to companies to design the exam; an alternative solution would be to use the ACT test already being taken by seniors seeking college admissions to judge student fitness for college-level work.

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