By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
About 30 percent of Findlay High School juniors are in danger of not graduating next year, Principal Craig Kupferberg told the school board Monday night.
That’s based on Ohio Department of Education data on student scores on the state’s new end-of-course tests required for the class of 2018.
A few Findlay juniors — 3.4 percent — have already met the requirements to graduate, while another 66.2 percent are “highly likely” to do so based on their test results so far, Kupferberg said.
He added those numbers to reach an “expected graduation rate” of 69.6 percent.
About 94 percent of Findlay High School seniors graduated in 2015, but the state’s graduation tests are changing.
Kupferberg on Monday presented new end-of-course test results broken down by subject, giving the percentages of juniors who have passing scores — proficient, accelerated or advanced. The total percentages of passing scores were:
- English 1, 81.8 percent
- English 2, 61.8 percent
- Algebra 1, 68.2 percent
- Geometry, 55.6 percent
- Physical science, 85 percent
- History, 87 percent
Kupferberg compared Findlay to 20 similar districts, as determined by enrollment, poverty, and other factors, and found that Findlay ranked between second and eighth in students who scored proficient or better on those six tests.
Only 23 students have taken the history test so far, and none has taken a government test, which keeps the percentage of students meeting all requirements low.
A biology test exists, but most juniors took physical science as freshmen instead. Students in the class of 2019 and beyond will take biology.
The tests are graded on a five-point scale, and students need a minimum of 18 points to graduate. At least four points must come from math, four from English and six from science and social studies.
The end-of-course tests are one of three paths that juniors can take to graduate.
They can also earn remediation-free ACT or SAT scores. These are scores that, according to state universities and the Ohio Department of Higher Education, indicate students are ready to succeed in college classes.
Another route is earning an industry-recognized career credential — such as a becoming a certified welder by the American Welding Society’s standards — and a score of 13 or better on the WorkKeys assessment. WorkKeys is a three-part test on reading, applied mathematics and locating information.
Kupferberg’s estimate of Findlay’s 2018 graduation rate, while low compared to its 2015 rate of 94.1 percent, is higher than his expectation that half of juniors statewide might not graduate next year.
He is part of a state group that has been meeting in Columbus to review the new graduation requirements.
Kupferberg’s understanding of the state testing, based on a presentation given at one of those meetings, is that testing isn’t really about the students.
Susan Therriault, director of the College and Career Readiness and Success Center at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., told the group that standardized testing helps make sure teachers interpret standards the same way. And when graduation hinges on test results, students take the tests seriously, she explained.
“We’re damaging students so that researchers have data to compare schools and what they’re doing,” Kupferberg said. “To me, that’s unethical.”
Board member Barbara Dysinger on Monday called the potential impact on graduation rates “frightening.”
“I’m really glad that you’re there to help investigate and see if they can find the answers for that,” she told Kupferberg.
Separately, Superintendent Ed Kurt said he has sent a letter to state Senators Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, and Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, with his legislative suggestions regarding education.
Lehner chairs the Senate Education Committee, and Hite and Gardner are among its members.
One of Kurt’s recommendations is to remove a proposal in Gov. John Kasich’s budget to have teachers complete work experience with a business or chamber of commerce when renewing their licenses. Kurt also opposes a budget proposal to add three business people as non-voting members of each school board.
“We currently have four business people” on Findlay’s board, he said.
Kurt wrote separately to Hite in favor of keeping a physical education waiver in place. About 300 students in marching band, cheerleading and athletics have a waiver each year so they don’t have to take a physical education class.
The state is considering requiring a “lifetime physical fitness curriculum,” Kurt said.