Graduation Pathways: New for 2020-2021 School Year

Graduation Pathways: New for 2020-2021 School Year

Background and Current Status

This year Ohio’s K-12 schools have adapted to the current health and safety guidelines resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. One of Ohio’s top priorities during the 2020-2021 school year is to ensure students can graduate and successfully transition to the next phase of their lives. During these unprecedented times, Ohio’s education community understands it is necessary to provide continued flexibility for students to meet graduation requirements.  

This webpage is designed to help inform school and district decisions regarding temporary graduation requirement flexibilities provided in light of the ongoing pandemic by way of recently enacted Ohio House Bill 67.
 

New Graduation Pathways

For the 2020-2021 school year only, recently enacted legislation has developed two new pathways to graduation for eligible students:

  1. Path One: Curriculum-only pathway - Eligible students may qualify for graduation if their principal, in consultation with their teachers and counselors, determines that the students have met the district’s curriculum requirements.
  2. Path Two: Curriculum requirements and OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal - Students may qualify for graduation if they complete their curriculum requirements and earn the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal.

Students must complete only the requirements for one of the two pathways above, or they may use any of the available pathways for their graduating class.

Most students who were in 12th grade or were on track to graduate at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, by nature of their principal determining that they have met the curriculum requirements of their school or district, will qualify for graduation based on the curriculum-only pathway. While the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal is not required for this pathway, it still can be a valuable asset for students transitioning to their next steps after graduation, whether they are pursuing higher education, entering the military or entering the workforce.
 


Path One: Awarding Diplomas with Curriculum Only

House Bill 67 – Section 4

 

STEP 1: DETERMINE A STUDENT’S ELIGIBILITY

Students are eligible for local graduation flexibility through Sept. 30, 2021, if they meet the following conditions:

Students who were either:
  • Enrolled in 12th grade in the 2020-2021 school year; OR
  • On track to graduate in 2020-2021 (as determined by the school district or school) regardless of the graduation cohort in which the student is included,

AND

Have not completed the requirements for a high school diploma.

The category “on track to graduate in 2020-2021” includes students outside of the 2021 graduation cohort, such as students from the class of 2020 or earlier who have not yet met graduation requirements, or students in the class of 2022 who have not yet graduated but are determined by the district or school to have been on track to graduate in the 2020-2021 school year. The determination of whether a student not enrolled in the 12th grade is “on track to graduate” is made locally.

 

STEP 2: DETERMINE IF THE STUDENT HAS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED THE CURRICULUM

The flexibility granted in the recently passed legislation allows schools and districts to award diplomas to students who have successfully completed the curriculum requirements, while forgoing all other additional requirements for a diploma. Additional components for a diploma that are no longer requirements for students because of this flexibility include assessment requirements and any alternative pathways to graduation. This window of flexibility granted to schools and districts and graduating students extends through Sept. 30, 2021.

A student’s principal, in consultation with teachers and counselors, determines whether eligible students have successfully met the curriculum requirements or a student’s individualized education program team determines whether eligible students have completed the individualized education program.

For purposes of the curriculum-only pathway, there are four categories of students:

  1. A student planning to meet the normal curriculum requirements for the student’s assigned graduation cohort;
  2. A student who will meet curriculum requirements under Ohio Revised Code 3313.61(A) as determined by the student’s individualized education program team;
  3. A student who is using Ohio Curriculum Choices (available to classes of 2014-2019) pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 3313.603(D); and
  4. A student enrolled in a dropout prevention and recovery program that is appropriately authorized by the Department through a waiver granted pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 3313.603(F).


To determine if a student has successfully completed the curriculum-only pathway, principals, in consultation with teachers and counselors, should:  

A. Determine whether a student has completed each course

Before a determination can be made about whether a student has successfully completed the curriculum requirements, a determination will need to be made for each course in which the student is enrolled. Schools and districts will need to award credit to students who meet the curriculum requirements for their necessary courses to award them a diploma. Schools should follow local policies and procedures to ensure fair and consistent practices when making decisions about awarding credit. Schools and districts are encouraged to document the criteria used to make credit award determinations. 

 

B. Determine whether a student has successfully completed the curriculum requirements

For purposes of this determination, a principal working with teachers and counselors first should identify whether the student performed satisfactorily on the curriculum for each course. The principal should then make the determination as to whether the student accumulated the required number of course credits (see the discussion below regarding district adopted curriculum requirements) to graduate. No other requirements that may have otherwise applied to the class of 2021 or earlier classes need to be met under this pathway (such as, test scores, capstone projects, work or community service experiences, industry recognized credentials, 11th and 12th grade GPA). After considering the totality of the student’s education performance on a course-by-course basis, the principal should make the decision about whether the student may graduate based on whether the student has successfully completed the curriculum.

  • Ohio Curriculum Choices: For a student in classes of 2014-2019 who is using Ohio Curriculum Choices and has identified an alternative set of curriculum requirements, the determination should be made as to whether the student has met those requirements in a similar manner as described above.
  • Individualized Education Program: For a student with an individualized education program, it is important the student is held to the same local graduation flexibility expectations as his or her peers who do not have disabilities to the extent possible. As appropriate, per Ohio Revised Code 3313.61(A), an individualized education program team may determine that a student with disabilities who is eligible for graduation flexibility, will graduate by successfully completing the individualized education program. The individualized education program team can use progress reports to determine and document if the student has met the goals outlined in the individualized education program based on the student’s experience through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. This flexibility also applies to students who take the Alternate Assessment for Students with the most Significant Cognitive Disabilities.
  • Dropout Prevention and Recovery Program: For a student enrolled in a dropout prevention and recovery program that has been authorized by the Department by virtue of having received a waiver issued by the Department pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 3313.603(F), the determination of graduation eligibility should be made based on the student’s successful completion of the competency-based instructional program. School administrators should review a student’s progress toward completing the program, in consultation with teachers and counselors, and make a determination as to whether a student has completed the requirements outlined in his or her program.

 

C. Document Decisions and Reasoning

Schools should maintain documentation of decisions made regarding each student’s graduation status when using the temporary graduation requirement flexibilities. Including the following information for these records may be helpful:

  • Decisions made and narrative justification;
  • Records from the student’s entire high-school career; and
  • Evidence of participation in education opportunities offered during the 2020-2021 school year.

Schools and districts will not be required to share documentation with the Department, but a consistent documentation process will be helpful for recordkeeping and to ensure decisions made are as fair and consistent as possible.

The state is relying on the professionalism, fairness and reasonable judgment of principals and educators in making determinations relative to the completion of curriculum for purposes of awarding a diploma.

 

DURATION OF FLEXIBILITY

Diplomas may be awarded to eligible students with this flexibility through Sept. 30, 2021, [see Section 4(B), House Bill 67, 134th General Assembly] after which students must meet the original requirements for a diploma applicable to their graduation cohort.
 


Path Two: Awarding Diplomas with Curriculum Requirements and OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal

House Bill 67 – Section 10

The temporary flexibility granted in the recently passed legislation also created another pathway to graduation for students during the 2020-2021 school year. This pathway is offered in addition to the above curriculum-only pathway and other pathways provided to students according to their graduating class.

Students may graduate using this pathway by:

  1. Successfully completing the curriculum requirements of their high school or completing the individualized education program developed for the student by the student’s individualized education program team; AND
  2. Earning the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal.

The legislation for this pathway does not specify that the determination must be made by the principal in consultation with teachers and counselors, as set forth in Path One. Students must meet their district’s curriculum requirements through traditional means, as outlined in Ohio Revised Code Section 3313.603. The determination of whether a student has successfully completed the requirements of his or her individualized education program falls to the individualized education program team.
 


Additional Information

AUTHORITY TO MODIFY DISTRICT CURRICULUM REQUIREMENTS IN EXCESS OF STATE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

Ohio law requires students to earn a minimum of 20 credits to be eligible to earn a diploma. Many local schools and districts require a more challenging curriculum through the adoption of a resolution by the local school board or governing authority. These local policies can require students to earn more than the state-minimum of 20 credits. However, under the new legislation, superintendents and chief administrators of schools and districts that have adopted a more challenging curriculum than the state minimum may, elect to require only the state minimum curriculum for all graduation pathways during the 2020-2021 school year (Section 4(B), House Bill 67, 134th General Assembly). Superintendents and chief administrators who elect to exercise this authority should consult with their board of education or governing authority leadership. Action by the board or governing authority is not required.

Last Modified: 4/30/2021 8:01:46 AM