By Janie Southard
New Bremen schools nosed the St. Henry district out of the driver's seat in the local Ohio Graduation Test race by 0.6 of a point, with 89.6 percent of its students passing the test.
Graduation test results were released by the Ohio Department of Education this week, but won't be verified by the state until schools have an opportunity to challenge the results before the Local Reports Cards are put together for mailing in August.
"We were very apprehensive about how the kids would do because we knew the test would be difficult," New Bremen Local Schools Superintendent Larry Smith told The Daily Standard on Thursday.
Smith said the teachers started a year ago looking at how the curriculum could be revised in social studies and a couple other subject areas to match the graduation test topics.
"We aren't teaching to the test, but we do want to make sure our kids get the materials they need for the test. Plus we encouraged the kids to go online to look at the practice tests," he said. The graduation test, which replaces the ninth-grade proficiency test, was taken in March by all Ohio sophomores. They are the first class to take the new test, which is now a requirement to graduate high school in Ohio. Sophomores who do not pass the test will have several more chances to pass during their junior and senior years and during summer breaks.
Students must pass all five subject areas: reading, math, writing, science and social studies.
The results come back putting students into the categories of: advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic and limited. Passing scores fall into the level of proficient, accelerated and advanced. Non-passing levels are designated basic and limited.
The Ohio Department of Education is providing a Family Report Interpretive Guide of the graduation test, which explains the various levels among other information.
Of the nine school districts covered by The Daily Standard, the percentage of sophomores passing the test in March is listed in the accompanying chart. A break- down of the scores by subject area and school can be found at the Web site www.ode.state.oh.us/proficiency/results.asp. Click on OGT results, then Mar 2005 district results and select a county.