Some of our high schools seniors protested in front of the administration building of the Toledo Public Schools yesterday - because they failed one portion of the Ohio Graduation Test and won't be able to graduate.
According to the article in The Blade, some of the students and their parents tried applying pressure yesterday to force the district to let seniors who failed the required exam walk across the stage.
According to the paper, 10% of the graduating students did not pass - which means that 90% did pass and can graduate. Of the 1,486 graduating seniors, only 295 took part of the test in March, which means that all the others had passed all portions of the test previously. The district says it will follow the rules, and not make an exception for these students, but some may be eligible for a waiver and, if so, can still graduate.
This article raises quite a few questions. What's the purpose of setting a graduation test and making passage required for graduation if you're also going to set up a waiver system to get around the test?
One of the protesters attends Scott High school and has a 4.0 gpa. Scott is one of the schools with 'honors' classes where you get an extra point for each grade (A=5 pts, not 4 and on down the line). So I wondered if this student with a 4.0 had taken honors classes - and, if so, why couldn't she pass her exam? If you're capable of earning a 4.0, do you just not take exams well or did you think that because you've got a 4.0 you didn't have study for the OGT?
And then I read, too, farther down the article that this is the third year these students have had to pass the exam - and I wondered what their scores were on the previous tests - were they showing improvements in their scores?
And then I worry about 'teaching to the test' - which is something I don't think should be done.
But I don't know that protesting their inability to walk across the stage was the right thing to do - those are the rules and they've been in place long enough for all the students to know about them. One student said, "“I didn’t pass the science part by seven points. I feel that it’s wrong."
Are these students and their parents suggesting that we ignore the rules because it makes them unhappy or prevents them from doing something that they want to do? Well - welcome to the real world where this kind of thing happens on a regular basis...perhaps this is good training for after graduation.
If there are problems with the tests - the administration or the preparation, etc. - then let's address them. But let's also instill in our students some personal responsibility for their own behavior along the way.