Delaware City School District leaders said Thursday they are grateful for the measures included in Ohio House Bill 197, which the Ohio General Assembly passed Wednesday. The bill addresses several education issues in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically, the bill allows high school seniors to graduate if they were on track when school buildings closed earlier this month. Also, the bill waives state testing, including the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee at the conclusion of this school year, which also does away with the 2019-2020 school report cards that are heavily based on those scores. The measure also allows schools to make up missed education days through the use of at-home learning.
The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.
“The district is grateful for the actions of the legislature to waive state testing requirements for this year and for the guidance regarding graduation for the senior class,” said Delaware City Schools Superintendent Heidi Kegley.
With regard to graduation requirements, the bill allows high schools in Ohio to give diplomas to seniors who were on track to graduate when their school buildings closed after DeWine’s order earlier this month. Kegley said staff at Hayes High School were already tracking students’ progress and will be reaching out to help as many seniors as possible.
“Our high school administrative team, school counselor,s and teachers started working at the beginning of the school year to determine which seniors were not on track to graduate,” she said. “We have been and continue to work with those students to identify pathways for graduation. Our staff is reaching out individually during this school closure to help students work toward earning the required credits and points.”
Kegley added that even though state testing has been waived, the district will still be reaching out to certain students to make sure they are ready and prepared when they move up grade levels. She explained that students complete Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments for the district in the fall, winter, and spring, and the district can use the two completed assessments from this year as well as teachers’ knowledge of students to determine if they are at grade-level.
“Delaware City Schools has several data points for our students including our MAP data to determine students who are not reading at grade level,” Kegley said. “Our teachers and principals continue to reach out through at-home learning to work with each of our students to move them forward, and we will determine as we move forward if we can offer summer boost classes to help our students who may need some individualized instruction to be successful at the next grade level.”
The bill also relaxes restrictions on distance learning and now allows districts to make up more missed class time using at-home learning.
Delaware City Schools Director of Communications Jennifer Ruhe said Thursday district staff is sitting in on some webinars to determine exactly what the change will mean for the district and the rest of the school year. Kegley said the district has yet to put out a message to families about the rest of the school year because there are still some unknown elements.
“We really are needing to wait for the final edicts from the governor on what the rest of the year is going to look like for us,” Kegley said. “We want to meet the needs of our students, but we are all learning this new way of learning at home together. This will be a learning process for all of us as we work together.”
Kegley added she’s relieved the state government has started taking steps to help schools.
“(I appreciate) the acknowledgement that things do need to look different and there could not be the same expectations for our students and those requirements,” Kegley said. “It’s extremely helpful in helping us move forward with a plan for our students. It’s very important for us to take it day by day and ensure that we’re providing the support that our staff needs, that our students need, and that our families need in this new learning environment.”
Though she doesn’t know what the rest of the school year will look like, Kegley said the district, students, and families will get through it together.
“We have received so much positive feedback from our families and our students,” she said. “Our learning still can continue, it just looks different right now. I want our families and our students to know that we are going to continue to be there and help them, and their teachers are going to be here to continue to provide the instruction they need.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.