A graduation guarantee policy for Clay High School students is under review by the Oregon City Schools District.
The proposal would guarantee that all Oregon students who graduate and who have passed the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) with or without allowable accommodations, are capable of meeting Ohio academic standards as measured by the OGT in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.
It would provide assurance to employers, potential employers, and colleges of high school graduates’ skills for two years following graduation. Eligible students who graduate under this program would be known as “Oregon Guaranteed Graduates.”
“I really like the idea of the Oregon Board of Education standing behind the service it provides and guaranteeing the education that each Clay graduate receives,” said School Board Member Jeff Ziviski, who introduced the measure. If adopted by the board, Oregon Guaranteed Graduates would receive separate certificates, other than their diplomas, that would set out the nature of the education guarantee. The graduate could use the certificate on college or job applications.
“It is one more thing that our graduates would have to set them apart from the crowd,” said Ziviski.
The Ohio Revised Code allows school districts to guarantee a specific level of competence, said Ziviski. Currently, there is only one other public school system in the state, Lakewood Schools, that offers this type of guarantee.
If an employer, potential employer, or college does not believe that the graduate meets the level of competency as outlined in the policy, they can submit a written statement to the school board. The superintendent would assess the claim, which would include testing by a third party. If the assessment shows that the graduate is deficient, then the board would provide additional assistance to the graduate in the areas of deficiency at no cost to the graduate, according to Ziviski.
There is a minimum standard that must be met by the graduate, said Ziviski. The graduate needs to put forth an acceptable level of effort to improve. Additionally, the guarantee is void if, in the district’s judgment, circumstances or events occur after graduation that affect the former student’s ability to maintain the level of competency.
“I have researched this topic, drafted the proposed policy and presented it to the Policy Committee,” said Ziviski.
There are some issues and concerns that need to be addressed and ironed out, he said. For example, there needs to be an adequate assessment procedure in place if someone invokes the guarantee.
“This is where a third party computer-based school/lab could contribute. The district would need to remove itself from the assessment process and remain independent. If would offer credibility to the policy. I think that is a hurdle that can be easily accomplished and a procedure put in place to allow for a quality assessment to be performed,” he said.
Another issue is the cost of a guarantee.
“If the district is responsible to provide the additional assistance to bring the graduate up to a certain competency level, then we need to know how much this could cost the district,” he said. “If the district can contract with a computer lab or a computer based school, like the Eagle Learning Center, to offer remediation assistance at a fixed cost per remediation, say $100, then I believe that this cost is minimal and is justified to ensure the students leave the district with a proper level of education.”
The program, he said, is largely beneficial to the student and district.
“It is also a great opportunity for the district to stand behind the education it provides and guarantee it through this policy,” he said.
“This would put Oregon schools even further ahead of the other school systems in the state. By guaranteeing the education of its graduates, we would be telling everyone in the community, county, and state that we are confident in our teachers, parents and students, and that the district offers a first class education and curriculum that is needed to succeed after graduation,” he said.
“Our mission statement guarantees the education of our students,” added Ziviski. “This takes it a step further and puts it in writing supporting our mission statement.”
The board is expected to discuss the proposal at the next board meeting on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Clay High School Media Center.