UVCC Board addresses graduation requirement concerns

By Aimee Hancock - ahancock@aimmediamidwest.com

PIQUA — Dr. Nancy Luce, superintendent at the Upper Valley Career Center, spoke about the “controversy” surrounding the school’s 2019 state-mandated graduation requirements during the center’s Board of Education meeting, Monday.

Luce introduced a video during the meeting, created by UVCC staff, to better explain the issue and “give people better information before they make a decision about what the graduation requirements should or should not be for the class of 2019.”

According to the video, students aiming to graduate with the class of 2019 need to earn a certain amount of credits for the classes they take and pass, as well as fulfill one of three “pathways.”

The first pathway requires students to earn 18 points on a series of seven end-of-course tests. Students can receive between a one and a five on each of the seven tests.

Students are taking many of these tests during freshman or sophomore year, and at the beginning of junior year, typically, they have taken six of the seven tests. By this time, school staff is able to determine whether or not a student is “at risk” for graduation.

If a student is at risk, they may need to retake one or more tests in order to meet requirements. For some, this means retaking a test for a class they may have taken one or two years prior.

For students who are not meeting the 18 points on end-of-course exams, the next option would be to receive a state-approved industry credential. This is for students who are attending a career technical school.

The issue with this pathway, according to the video, is that not all programs have a state-approved credential. Students seeking this pathway would also need a score of 13 on a workplace readiness test.

The final pathway is to receive remediation-free scores in English and math on the ACT or SAT.

The concern here, the video states, is that if students are struggling to meet the 18 points on the end-of-course exams, typically, they will also struggle to receive remediation-free scores on the ACT or SAT.

In addition to the 18 minimum overall points from end-of-course exams, students are also required to earn a minimum score within each subject area.

The video continues by stating the graduating class of 2018 was originally required to use this three-pathway system, but education officials at the state level took into account the “great number” of students at risk for graduation and offered additional pathways.

Luce explained that the issues resulting from these requirements have negative implications on policy, economic development, and local workforce.

She continued by pointing out the issue lies, in part, within nationwide requirements for students.

“A large part of it has come from some of the national groups, (including) Gates Foundation, the Alex Group; a lot of it is their agenda, and it’s been in place for about the last four or five years,” Luce said.

It was around this time, Luce said, that PARCC and other standardized tests began to evolve with the Core Curriculum, and the idea that “we’re all going to do it this way.”

“Somehow, the child got left out of the equation,” she said.

Luce ended the discussion by stating that effort on behalf of local employers, educators, and parents will be ongoing until a sensible approach to graduation requirements is reached with the Ohio Department of Education.

“It’s an area that we all need to be concerned about,” she said. “We’re going to keep working and advocating.”

Sarah Thomason, director of Aspire, attended Monday’s meeting to give an overview and update of Ohio’s Aspire programs.

These programs provide free services for individuals who need assistance acquiring the skills to be successful in post-secondary education, training, and employment.

According to Thomason, Aspire is non-profit and funded by grants. Services are available at 49 programs throughout all 88 Ohio counties.

The UVCC Aspire program offers instruction to assist in increasing workplace basic education skills (reading, writing, math, and problem-solving); preparing for certification testing; increasing employability skills; learning English as a second language; earning a high school equivalence/GED test credentials; learning computer basics; and preparing to enter post-secondary education.

Classes are offered at no cost to anyone 18 years of age and older at various locations, days, and times. Students under 18 years of age much be officially withdrawn from school. All students are required to attend a registration session where an assessment is given to help determine individual education needs and goals.

For more information, or to register for Aspire, contact Thomason by phone, at 937-778-1078, ext. 501, or by email, at thomasons@uppervalleycc.org. Students may also register at mandatory, scheduled registration sessions in Piqua or Greenville.

In other business, the board discussed the following:

• The purchase of two vehicles through the Southwestern Ohio EPC, due to the recent loss of one of the district vans in a crash, along with the original intent to purchase a replacement van this year.

• The purchase of a new storage server.

• The approval of a Troy Foundation grant in the amount of $500 for the transportation of Troy students to Adult Aspire classes; and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office school training grant in the amount of $2,632.90.

• Tuition reimbursement for 13 individuals for a total of $6,756.19.

• The approval of a donation, by Pat Puthoff, of 34 leather-bound books (The Louis L’Amour Collection), to be used by the English department.

• The approval of the German Exchange program for spring of 2019. It is projected that two chaperones and 10 students will be involved.

• The approval of the agreements with the Miami County Educational Service Center for the 2018-2019 school year for the provision of the services of an Attendance Officer and a Resident Educator Program.

• The approval of certified substitutes, Kyle Chalmers and Jeff Replogle, on an as-needed basis, for the 2018-19 school year, effective Oct. 23, 2018.

• The approval of classified substitute secretary, Jennifer Renner, at a rate of $11.15 per hour, effective Oct. 23, 2018.

• The approval of a classified employee stipend for the 2018-2019 school year, to Ed Seger, in the amount of $600, for afternoon parking lot monitoring.

• The approval of employment of Sarah Bay and Hannah Booth, adult Aspire instructors, at $22 per hour, effective Oct. 23, 2018; and Amy Stoots, AD clinical nursing instructor and AD nursing instructor, at $30 and $25 per hour, respectively, effective Oct. 18, 2018.

• The approval of adult student services secretary, Jennifer DeMarcus, at $29,228, prorated, effective Oct. 15, 2018.

• The retirement of Terry McMenamin, adult student, alumni, and assessment coordinator, effective Dec. 31, 2018.

• The resignation of Amy Stoots as full-time adult nursing instructor, effective Oct. 17, 2018; and Mackenzie Battle, adult building assistant/receptionist, effective Oct. 09, 2018.

• The approval of high school volunteers for the 2018-2019 school year, including Jordan Boggs, Zac Gordon, Tom Lillicrap, and Tracy Trapp, all effective Oct. 22, 2018.

• Salary modifications for career tech instructors Taylor Adami, Jeff Bertke, Jeremy Kettering, Kreg McCullough and Derek McCracken; family and consumer science instructor, Tara Berning; and academic instructor, Kyle VanDyke.

• Contract modification for Greg Anderson, paraprofessional; unpaid partial leave of absence from Oct. 1, 2018 through Nov. 20, 2018. Anderson will work from 7:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., instead of 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., due to responsibilities on his family farm.

• The approval of the superintendent’s recommendation to suspend a UVCC employee Deborah Luellen for two-days without pay, taking place Oct. 19 and Oct. 22, as a result of “continuing inadequate follow-through with routine tasks.”

The next board meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 26, at 6 p.m., in the Adams Board Room.

By Aimee Hancock


Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.