We all want to see our high school graduates prepared to step into college or a good job.
But as Ohio is finding with its new high-school graduation requirements, that is easier said than done.
The state is implementing new standards that take effect with the Class of 2018, and this year's juniors must meet one of three criteria to graduate, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Two options involve test scores, the first would be earning 18 out of a possible 35 points on seven end-of-course exams and the second would be getting a score on a college entrance exam that will allow them to begin taking college level courses without taking remediation course. The third option would be obtain an industry credential that shows they are ready for a job.
But educators are already worried that large numbers of students will not be able to meet one of those standards.
School administrators estimate that statewide 20 to 50 percent of students are not scoring high enough on the end-of-course exams, which test more specific knowledge than the old Ohio Graduation Test, which is being phased out. Also in recent years, about 40 percent of graduates headed to college have been required to take remedial classes.
School administrators are planning a rally next in Columbus to protest the higher standards, which some feel should have included more input from local educators. And the mood seems to be swinging their way.
State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria told the Dispatch that "softening or lessening of expectations" may be the best thing to do.
"This is all about giving greater meaning to a high school diploma," he said. "We may just need more time."
Schools in West Virginia and Kentucky face the same challenges. Although high-school graduation rates are at record levels, it is clear that too many of the students getting diplomas are not really ready for post-secondary education or a job with a living wage.
But we will not change that overnight. School systems need to help students' proficiency in lower grades so they are prepared for the higher standards for graduation. That is going to take an investment in extra instruction and support that our states have been so far unwilling to make.