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Students Taking State Math, English Tests Must Be "Competent" - Not "Proficient"

State schools superintendent Paolo DeMaria speaks at a press conference in 2018.
State schools superintendent Paolo DeMaria speaks at a press conference in 2018.

(UPDATE: As he said he would, DeMaria set the competency score at 684 for Algebra I and English II, which is within "basic" and below "proficient" in the five performance levels for state tests.)

Spring is coming, and so is state testing season in Ohio’s schools. And next week, the state school superintendent and the Ohio Department of Education will set minimum scores for students to show competency in Algebra I and English II – but they won’t  be required to be proficient.

State tests have always had five areas where a student's score will fall: "limited", "basic", "proficient", "accelerated" and "advanced". New graduation requirements passed last year require competency on those tests, and superintendent Paolo DeMaria said the “competency” score will be somewhere between “basic” and “proficient” on the current state testing scale.

DeMaria said this isn’t a lowering of the bar, because it’s never been required for students to score “proficient” on those tests to graduate. He said this just sets a baseline standard for those who plan to go right to work after high school.

“Whatwe'rebasicallytryingtodois, lookingattheminimalrequirement, whatdowethinkit'sgoingtotakeforastudenttobeabletogointotherealworldanddosomethingsthatwillallowthemtosucceed?” said DeMaria. "And we've gauged that against sort of entry level jobs in positions that really say all we are looking for is a student with a high school diploma. If we use that as the standard, that's what we're trying to say with this.”

The new graduation standards also allow options besides competency on tests to earn diplomas starting in 2023, but DeMaria said going beyond competency will still be emphasized to students.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.