A group of Ohio business leaders is trying to make its mark on education.

Ohio’s seemingly ever-shifting graduation requirements have long been a source of controversy in the state. When it was introduced in 2006, the Ohio Graduation Test proved to be far too easy and lacked real-world applicability. However, its 2013 successor turned out to be a bit of an overcorrection, as many districts saw fewer than half of their students score the requisite 18 points to pass.

Since then, Ohio’s graduation requirements have been in a state of flux. Signed into law at the beginning of the year, H.B. 491 is a temporary solution that offers students several alternate — and again, arguably too easy — pathways to graduation besides the Ohio Graduation Test. H.B. 491 is due to expire in a few years, and Ohio’s next plan for graduation has yet to be announced.

However, one group of Ohio business leaders believes it can offer a better solution. Ohio Excels, a new nonpartisan coalition “committed to improving education for every Ohio student,” is aiming to provide Ohio schools with the perspectives of successful business leaders in an effort to better equip students for college and/or a career.

What We Know about Ohio Excels

Ohio Excels announced itself to the world in early March. Its board members include a number of Ohio business leaders, with Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Joe Roman serving as Chairman of the Board. Lisa Gray, the organization’s Founding President, has a background in both education and politics. Her most recent work was as a consultant specializing in public policy development with an emphasis on public education.

The group’s website offers an extensive summary of its policy priorities, which range from establishing firm, standardized statewide graduation requirements to equipping all schools with early warning systems to providing robust support to students who are at risk of not graduating on time. Ohio Excels indicates that reforming graduation requirements is the most pressing of its policy priorities, and recommends that its suggestions (or something like them) be put in place for the class of 2021, even if other components of its overall education plan aren’t phased in until years later.

The requirements proposed by Ohio Excels stand in opposition to those that the state currently has in place, but according to the group, the current requirements are too limited in scope, too complex to successfully implement, and leave too many gaps for consistent quality assurance.

Ohio Excels claims that its requirements will ensure greater student success through consistent implementation, flexibility that allows students to demonstrate competency in a way that aligns with their chosen educational pathway, and greater investment in resources and early interventions.

The Rules of Doing Business

Why the sudden interest in education from the business community? According to the group’s website, the group’s mission is to “provide an informed business perspective to help improve and transform Ohio’s education system so that it better prepares students to meet the demands of our evolving economy.”

Since we’re talking business, here’s something you can take to the bank: improving and transforming existing education systems — in Ohio or elsewhere — requires funding and resources. That’s why districts should consider using Vinson’s CheckPoint EMIS Platform to maximize the funding they receive from local, state, and federal sources.

CheckPoint is the only EMIS tool on the market that was specifically built to align with Ohio’s data reporting requirements. It allows stakeholders to spend less time on reporting while still receiving every dollar of funding to which they’re entitled — that’s what the business world calls working smarter, not harder.