Vocational Route: Ohio to offer graduation options 2015.11.18

The recent release of ACT scores taken last year by all Michigan eleventh grade students shows that the focus of high school education is still on college readiness. Every Michigan student is expected to be ready for college enrollment, according to state standards.

The standards are in place in an effort to improve education in the state, but what a silly expectation. No matter how society has changed in recent years, no matter what changes have arisen in the workforce, despite every state's effort to best the others and show that its students are prepared for the future, it's an unrealistic expectation to expect every student to attend and succeed at college. It always has been and it still is. Wishing for changes won't make them so. Perhaps the only way to make that happen is weaken college standards in hopes that more students will succeed.

Looking south of the border to Ohio, the expectations of college for everyone are falling away. Starting with this year's sophomore class, high school students will have three options to meet graduation requirements, and success on the ACT test is only one of them.

Students will have two other options: passing a series of end-of-course exams; or showing vocational proficiency by earning state-approved, industry-recognized credentials or a state license for practice in a vocation, and achieve a score that demonstrates workforce readiness.

The new Career Pathways option can begin as early as seventh grade and starts with basic classes, workplace visits, job shadowing and internships. The Fayette district sees opportunities in the agriculture field. Its ag program is already extremely popular with students and is expected to grow.

It will be interesting to watch Ohio's program unfold and see if it meets the goals set. It appears to be a very sensible alternative to what has taken over in Lansing where schools and teachers are graded on the basis of having all students ready to go off to college.