Students have mixed reactions to OGT pilot

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 9, 2003

While some students flew through it, the Ohio Graduation Test's mathematics pilot had some local high school juniors thankful they were not freshmen.

Ohio students graduating after Sept. 15, 2006, will need to pass the new Ohio Graduation Tests to receive a diploma. This year's freshmen will take it next year as sophomores. The test will have five portions which include mathematics, English and language arts, writing, science and social studies and will replace the ninth-grade proficiency test. Last spring, high school sophomores took pilot versions of the exam, and juniors took pilot versions of the mathematics portion Tuesday.

These juniors will not have to pass this test to graduate, said Dawson-Bryant High School Principal Brenda Haas. However, taking the test will provide those creating it with valuable data such as types of questions that should be eliminated.

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"The kids have been great," she said. "This will not affect their diploma, but everyone has a stake in it. This year's freshmen, and some students' younger brothers and sisters, will have to pass it."

Haas said about half of the students said they recognized the material on the test from their classes. However, some students who are struggling in math may find the material difficult, she said. With many students coming into the district because of frequent student exchanges with Kentucky schools, the new students may not have a math background as extensive as ones who have been in the district longer. Math department members will be meeting Thursday to discuss curriculum alignment, she said.

Students were allowed to use calculators during the test, Haas said. She lifted up a formula sheet that was also included in the test booklet which included formulas for students to use for test questions. However, some of the formulas were somewhat complex and some trigonometry problems.

"Sophomores will have to do this," she said.

J.C. Medinger, a guidance counselor at Ironton High School, said most students who have had college preparatory math classes believed the test was fair. However, at least one student had a very different reaction.

"One student told me, 'Man, I feel sorry for the freshmen.'"

The school district has already begun arranging curriculum to meet the needs of the test, Medinger said. A new social studies class has been offered to freshmen, meaning that they will have had two social studies classes instead of one before taking the test. Students have already taken physical science in the ninth grade in the past, and will be taking biology in the tenth.

Ironton High School juniors Ryan Walker, Britt Roach and Arisa Fillgrove unanimously agreed they are glad they are not required to take this test to graduate.

"We're juniors, and we think it's hard. They're freshmen," Roach said.

Before they took the ninth-grade proficiency test, the students said their teachers had copies of old tests that they used in class. These tests, they said, helped them considerably, and old tests should help students taking the OGT.

"They won't have an idea what's going to be on there without them," Walker said.

Some juniors at Dawson-Bryant High School had a much different reaction.

"I thought it was simple," Todd Dingus said.

Hope Hall said she "flew" through the test. However, Hall takes calculus while Roach, Walker and Fillgrove are in geometry. Dingus is taking Algebra II.

Sometimes though, Hall realized that she had forgotten some material from her earlier classes. She credits her teachers for helping her with that aspect. Her pre-calculus book, she said, has a trigonometry section.