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Published: Saturday, 5/17/2008

Test keeps fewer from graduation

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Fewer Toledo high school seniors will have to sit out this graduation season than last year for not passing at least one part of the Ohio Graduation Test.

There are 92 Toledo Public Schools seniors who have yet to pass all five sections of the test, and therefore cannot receive a diploma or participate in the traditional commencement ceremonies in a few weeks.

That's compared to 147 seniors who were in the same position last year.

The class of 2007 was the first required to pass all sections of the OGT to receive a diploma.

"We will keep focusing on reducing the number that are in this precarious position, but I think we have made some great strides," said Jan Kilbride, chief academic officer of the district.

The district is examining if some of those students, perhaps about 10, could qualify to graduate through the alternative pathway, Ms. Kilbride said.

The seven qualifications include: missing the score by less than 11 points, having a 97 percent attendance each year of high school, never having been expelled, having at least a 2.5 grade-point average, completing the curriculum requirements in the subject area of the failed test, participating in any offered intervention programs, and having letters recommending graduation from each teacher in the subject area of the failed OGT test and from the principal.

There were 256 seniors who had to take at least one section of the test in March in order to pass all five sections - reading, math, science, social studies, and writing - and 65 percent of the students did that.

In 2007, there were 295 seniors needing to pass at least one section in March to graduate a couple months later and only about half did.

Current seniors first took the test their sophomore year, and, according to Ohio Department of Education data, about 40 percent of the 1,822 TPS students who took all sections in March, 2006, scored proficient or above at that time.

The Department of Education does not keep other records about how students score as they retake the test or how many seniors are affected with last chances to take the test and if they pass or fail.

There was an extra effort in the Toledo district this year to inform students of the exam's importance and to prepare them to pass it, including workbooks given to all seniors, Saturday "OGT boot camps," and other tutoring sessions, Ms. Kilbride said. "One of the big things was more visibility of the test and more awareness on the part of students to know this is really here," she said.

For those students who didn't pass all sections of the test - science is the section most often failed, Ms. Kilbride said - there will be another opportunity during the summer, but the students still will be prevented from walking during graduation.

Students who failed the OGT also have the opportunity to obtain a GED diploma.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at: mgilbert@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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