BACK TO SCHOOL: New pathways to diplomas at OHS

More pathways for the Class of 2018 to earn high school diplomas are rolling out this year at Oberlin High School.

Principal William Baylis broke down new mandates released Aug. 1 by the state education department to supplement Ohio’s seven end-of-course tests.

To graduate, students must earn a state minimum of 20 credits in specific subjects and demonstrate that knowledge in one of three ways:

• Ohio’s state tests: Students will take exams in English I and II, algebra, geometry, integrated math I and II, physical science, American history, and American government. They must earn 18 out of 35 points to graduate, and up to five points can be earned on each test. Tests must be retaken at least once if a low score in math or English is received.

• Industry-recognized credential and score on workforce readiness test: Students must earn an industry-recognized credential totaling 12 points and obtain the required score on the WorkKeys test, which measures workplace skills that can affect job performance. Ohio pays for students to take the test one time.

• College and career readiness tests: Students must achieve remediation-free scores, set by the Ohio Department of Education, in math and English on the ACT or SAT.

The new options for earning diplomas were put in place for the Class of 2018 to provide more opportunities for students who do not meet one of the three existing pathways.

At least two of the following criteria must be met during student’s senior year: attendance rate of 93 percent (13 absences or fewer); earn a GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale in all courses completed; complete a capstone project that the district or school defines; complete a work or community service experience totaling 120 hours; earn three or more College Credit Plus credits at any time during high school; earn credit for an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course and earn an AP exam score of 3 or higher or IB exam score of 4 or higher at any time during high school; earn a WorkKeys exam score of 3 or higher on each of three test sections; earn a state board-approved industry-recognized credential that equal at least three points; and meet OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal requirements.

Requirements for students in a career-technical program differ slightly.

Baylis was concerned that the amount of testing was so extreme, and is happy about the changes.

“At the end of the day, we have to figure out a way to get kids to graduate and it has to be more than just a standardized test,” he said. “I’m happy that they’ve found a more holistic way of evaluating.”

Oberlin’s high school test scores have not dramatically improved in recent years.

To elicit growth, teacher-based teams will continue to collaborate and dig into student data, which improved ninth grade English scores. Social studies and science will join last year’s English and math groups.

Baylis said there is the shift from persuasive writing to informational, meaning there’s a push for fact-based documentation that uses evidence and research.

He said IB has laid the groundwork for OHS students because it requires students to research information and understand multiple documents from different periods in time.

Another big change coming is a new partnership with with Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a Cleveland-based nonprofit, and Lorain County Community College. Student development courses covering career planning, job exploration, interviewing skills, and resume building will be offered at the high school.

Students can then take college placement tests to earn both high school credit and three college credits.

Susan Palmentera, a new hire, will be paid with district grant money to lead as the student development coach.

It’s important to Baylis that more kids take college classes in high school. In a typical class, 10 kids will take a class at Oberlin College, another five will go to LCCC, and a handful will take IB exams.

Family income is often an indicator of which students will struggle. “The big issue is trying to find a way for mid-range and lower kids to get this experience,” he said, pointing to the city’s free-and-reduced lunch program, which is used by more than half of students.

“Kids might do really well, but at the end of the day, if they don’t have the support or the ability to go far away to a school, they can’t take advantage of those opportunities.”

Attendance is another hot topic on the principal’s mind. Sixty percent of the discipline at OHS stems from excessive tardiness.

Last December, the Ohio General Assembly passed a new legislation to identify and reduce barriers to regular school attendance. House Bill 410 states that students cannot be suspended or expelled for missing too much school, and requires the district to follow strategies such as notifying guardians, counseling, and supportive services to reduce truancy.

A coordinator will be hired to consult kids with poor attendance. The same position will also take charge of in-school suspension, which has been brought back after being eliminated last school year due to budget cuts.

Two new staff members will also join the team. Jennifer Bracken has replaced part-time guidance counselor Robin Fox, while new college graduate Audrey Bonham will instruct Spanish.

Baylis wants to eliminate headphone use in classrooms. Cell phones are already permitted, but he said earbuds are a distraction.

The dress code policy will remain untouched except for minor language edits.

A committee comprised of parents and students met with administrators to change wording in the student handbook they felt were specific to gender. Baylis said an example included replacing the word “cleavage” with “chest area,” which doesn’t specify gender.

Classes resume Aug. 23. Parents and students can visit the building Aug. 22 to speak with staff and tour the facilities.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775- 1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

.neFileBlock {
margin-bottom: 20px;
.neFileBlock p {
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
.neFileBlock .neFile {
border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
padding-bottom: 5px;
padding-top: 10px;
.neFileBlock .neCaption {
font-size: 85%;


By Laurie Hamame

Oberlin High School

Principal: William Baylis

Start time: 8:15 a.m.

Release time: 3:15 p.m.

Number of students: 333

Grades: 9-12