Thirteen of the Boardman students are seniors and have two more chances to pass the test.
BOARDMAN -- Thirty students at Boardman High School have yet to pass a proficiency test required for graduation, a 17 percent increase over last year.
Thirteen of the students are seniors, who have two more chances to pass the proficiency exam, which tests at the ninth-grade level, before graduation day. At this time last year, eight seniors had yet to pass the test.
Students begin taking the test in ninth grade and can take it up to three times per year. Students must pass the five-part test to receive a diploma.
The number of juniors yet to pass the test -- 17 -- is the same as in last year's class.
High School Principal Tim Saxton attributes the rise to "the law of averages" and said he believes most of the seniors, if not all, will pass by graduation.
Seven of eight passed
Last year, seven of the eight seniors passed the test in time, Saxton said, adding that an average of one student per year is denied a diploma for failing the test. There are about 400 students in each grade.
"Eventually most of the kids pass," Saxton said. "We do have some who come back in the fall and take it, and others we never hear from."
The high school will continue to provide tutors to help students overcome difficult areas of the test.
The state Department of Education no longer requires freshmen to take the test. Instead, starting this year, sophomores must take and pass the more advanced Ohio Graduation Test to graduate.
"I don't think there is a secondary educator who isn't nervous about the Ohio Graduation Test," Saxton said. "The test is more difficult than the ninth-grade test."
Boardman sophomores will take the new test from March 7 to 11, the same time juniors and seniors can retake the proficiency test.
Instead of taking the test with 200 students in the cafeteria -- as was done in the past -- smaller groups will assemble in classrooms for two hours each morning.
The smaller groups are designed to reduce the student-to-teacher ratio and keep students on the same schedule.
Saxton said it offers "the best chance of success."
Those not taking a test will start school two hours later for the five days.
Superintendent Frank Lazzeri said he supports the tests because they identify students' trouble spots.
"We have a tremendous success rate," Lazzeri said. "You try to hone in areas where students are weak."