Columbus, Ohio — Columbus City Schools is pulling out all of the stops to make sure its students hit the graduation finish line.

What You Need To Know

  • A student survey revealed that students felt abandoned last March when the pandemic started 

  • Columbus City Schools' graduation requirements exceeded the state's graduation requirements, so eliminating two wasn't a problem 

  • The district is running credentialing boot camps and helping students get their Ohio Means Jobs seal

  • Learning Extension Centers (LEC) work alongside students who are behind on credits to help them catch up and CCS now has volunteers calling families with seniors to provide graduation resources as a part of We Care Wednesdays; to volunteer email

The class of 2021, like any other class, is looking forward to graduation day.

This year, Columbus City Schools will hold graduations in person. It's an added bonus since last year's graduations went virtual. The only thing standing in the way for some reaching the finish line is graduation credits. Currently, a good number of students in the district are short on credit and not on track to graduate.

“We are making good progress. The last time that I looked at this information was about a month ago and we were at 47% on track, and we are now 55% on track,” said Supervisor of School Counseling and Student Support Services Bill Mitchell.

Compared to this same time in 2019, a year before the pandemic hit, more students were off track than now because the district didn’t have as many graduation pathway options for students to help them get on track, said Director of Secondary Curriculum Instruction Kenton Lee.

“It's good to be at 55%, we're not done. We (still have) the quarter to go. And I think there's things in the works that will hopefully accelerate and raise that number, a lot,” he said.

While many have felt overwhelmed by the assignments and struggled to keep up, the district said they're listening to students.

The district adjusted its plans last March and added to it this school year to help all of its students. Their plans include having senior support teams and graduation coaches.

They've also leaned heavily on community partnerships with Learning Extension Centers (LECs). 

The district has also:

  • Waived two graduation requirements and adjusted grading
  • Given students who have to work because a parent has lost a job access to complete assignments through the digital academy when they get off work
  • Connected with students regularly in-person and via phone, email, and text

Students like Alexia Wilburn, Kevin Damoah and Alexa Orduna said assistance from teachers, counselors and programs have helped keep them on track.

It's also helped them apply for college and scholarships.

“With my, I Know I Can advisor, she has helped me a lot . . . through all of it . . . she's helped my parents as well understand everything through the college process,” Wilburn said.

Orduna, a soon-to-be first-generation college student, said working with peers has helped too.

“We’ve helped each other navigate . . . they've helped edit my essays, my friends have helped edit my essays. And so online it kind of has helped me a little bit because now you email me this and then so I can look at that,” Orduna said.

Damoah said his teachers worked with him on his college applications and even helped him correct a mistake made on his financial aid form.  

As students look forward to finishing out the year, Columbus Schools said they’re committed to making sure they do everything they can to close the gap.

Columbus Schools officials said they’re making adequate progress and hope to see a larger number of students on track in the next quarter.