CPS Readies Students for Tougher Graduation Requirements


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It has become more challenging for incoming 9th-graders to graduate from high school since the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) introduced new, more rigorous graduation requirements. But, students in Cincinnati Public Schools’ Class of 2018 will be more than ready thanks to plans set in motion years ago to help them meet or exceed the standards. 

ODE now requires students to take four units of English-Language Arts and mathematics; three units of science and social studies; one half unit of health and physical education; and five electives. CPS upped the ante by adding another elective requirement, for a total of six. 

In addition to taking the courses, students will have to pass seven end-of-course exams in Algebra I and geometry (or integrated math I and II), physical science, American history, American government, and English I and II. Students who are studying Advanced Placement (AP) or taking dual enrollment courses in physical science, American history or American government may take assessments aligned to those courses in lieu of end-of-course exams to avoid double testing. 

Students also must achieve one of the following: 

  • Cumulative test score of 18 points or higher (five points per exam and at least four points in math, 4 points in English and six points in science and social studies)
  • Remediation free ACT score (English 18 or higher, Reading 21 or higher and math 22 or higher)
  • Workforce readiness (industry credential or state-issued license AND successful completion of a workforce readiness assessment) 

“We knew years ago that more rigorous standards were coming,” said Dr. Gabriel Lofton, assistant superintendent for Cincinnati Public Schools. “We took steps to ensure that our students were ready to meet these new challenges.” 

Gabe Quote Grad RequirementsLofton cites the transition of CPS high schools to serve grades 7 through 12 as an example. 

“We wanted our students to get a jump start on meeting the new requirements, so we pulled our 7th– and 8th-graders out of elementary buildings and placed them in high schools where they receive instruction from teachers who are masters in their content area, as opposed to generalists with an elementary license. The strategy allows us to prep them with higher-level coursework prior to 9th grade when the new requirements come into play,” Lofton said. 

This year, the district launched the My Tomorrow*ed initiative, a far-reaching plan to reimagine high schools to better prepare students for the careers of their choice. The initiative is rooted in the district’s 2020 Vision that, in six years, a full 100 percent of CPS 7th-graders will graduate ready to pursue their chosen career paths. The approach combines increased high school rigor, the latest technology and supportive adult relationships to redesign traditional learning models. My Tomorrow was rolled out at all 15 high schools this year, and it will be phased in at all grade levels within the next five years. 

“Even with new, tougher standards in place, our goal for students extends beyond graduation,” Lofton said. “High-school graduation is only a first step. We want our students to be ready for the real world by giving them the skills they need to be workforce ready in an increasingly challenging, fast-paced global environment.”