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Akron Schools See a Major Boost in Graduation Rates

photo of Chad Aldis
Chad Aldis with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute says the increase could mean students are getting less rigorous teaching.

One Northeast Ohio school district is graduating students at higher rates this year than in the recent past. But education advocates say the increase isn’t necessarily something to celebrate.

In all, 93 percent of Akron City Schools’ seniors are expected to graduate this year, up from an estimated 54 percent who were on track to graduate at the beginning of the school year.

The drastic increase over a short period comes from the alternative graduation pathways Ohio lawmakers approved for only the class of 2018. The group could graduate by completing 21 credits and scoring well on end of course exams, as future classes will have to. But it was also given the option to fulfill two requirements on a list of nine options.

Chad Aldis with the research group the Thomas B. Fordham Institute says that list includes options that are less rigorous, doing students a disservice.

“Test scores aren’t everything, but to the extent that they’re a good indicator that a student is reading well and able to do math at a high enough level, we need to make sure students have the skills they need to be successful when they leave high school,” he said.

Those alternative options include having a 93 percent attendance rate, at least a 2.5 GPA, or completing 120 hours of community service.