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OGT preparation concerns parents

Alissa Widman Neese • Oct 4, 2013 at 1:20 PM

 A crowd of high school parents grilled Sandusky Schools officials Wednesday night about the district’s ability to prepare students for state-mandated graduation tests.

The Ohio Graduation Test, a five-part test all students must complete to graduate, dominated the 15-minute question portion of the hour-long gathering. It was the fifth of seven planned community forums with Sandusky Schools officials this fall. About 50 people attended.

Some parents said many students don’t know they haven’t met graduation standards until just weeks before the district’s graduation ceremony.

Sandusky Schools offers tutoring and a summer “boot camp” to help students pass the Ohio Graduation Test as early as possible, starting in 10th grade, superintendent Eugene Sanders said. If they’re still taking the test the final time it’s offered, however — in March of their senior year — the state doesn’t typically finalize results until mid-May.

State officials first instituted the Ohio Graduation Test in 2005, replacing a ninth-grade proficiency test. Students first take the five-portion exam in 10th grade. If they don’t complete a section with a high enough score, they can retake those portions two to three times per year before graduation.

Sanders stressed his staff doesn’t “teach to the test,” but instead strives to teach students valuable skills to prepare them for college and their careers. Those skills should also allow them to pass the Ohio Graduation Test if they take it seriously and seek help when needed.

He suggested parents monitor their child’s grades using PowerSchool, an accessible online grade book. The district’s leaders plan to host future meetings to teach parents how to use it effectively.

The district’s 2012 graduation rate was 85 percent, while the year prior it was 77 percent.

In 2009, the state approved an education reform bill declaring the Ohio Graduation Test needed to be replaced. A new evaluation system is expected in the 2014-15 school year, through a gradual, phase-in process.

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