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Success in college reflects high school courses taken



Published: Wed, July 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The report said Badger students performed the best in college in 2000.

By RON COLE

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- An estimated 56 percent of Ohio's high school graduates go on to attend college in Ohio, but four out of every 10 are unprepared and must take remedial classes.

Those are among the findings in a report released today by the Ohio Board of Regents that examines how well Ohio high schools prepare graduates for college.

The report says that 31 percent of freshmen entering Ohio public and private colleges in fall 2000 did not complete an academic core of courses in high school (four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies).

Students not completing those courses were twice as likely to need remedial math and English courses in college, get significantly lower grades in college and were much more likely to drop out of college, according to the report.

Road map

"The report is extremely helpful as a road map for students who want to be successful in college," said Rob Sheehan, the regents' associate vice chancellor and the report's author.

"It indicates that students should pay careful attention to the curriculum they take in high school."

Patti Grey, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education, said the state is setting higher high school standards that should help improve college preparation for all students who receive a high school diploma.

"We have to have the same expectations for all students so that they all have the opportunity to be prepared for higher education," she said.

The detailed report, reviewed today at a joint meeting of the regents and the State Board of Education, breaks down by school district data on college attendance, remediation and college success.

Findings

For example, the report shows that 68 percent of recent Campbell Memorial High School graduates were enrolled as freshmen in an Ohio college in fall 2000, the highest proportion of any school district in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. The lowest college-going rate was at Harding High School in Warren, at 25 percent.

Only 5 percent of the graduates of Joseph Badger High School in Trumbull County had to take remedial English or math in college, by far the lowest rate in the tri-county area. Wellsville in Columbiana County had the highest rate at 77 percent.

The report says Badger students performed the best once they were in college, scoring a 3.5 grade point average after the first term. The lowest GPA in the tri-county area was 1.9 at Warren Harding.

"I think it's important for school districts ... to get the word out to students as early perhaps as the middle school years that not only is going to college important but being prepared to do well in college is also very important," Sheehan said.

The report shows that more students in wealthy suburban high schools enroll in college (59 percent) and perform better in college (2.9 GPA) than those in poverty-stricken urban high schools (34 percent college attendance and 2.4 GPA).

But Sheehan said the biggest indicator of an individual student's success in college isn't where he went to high school but whether he took an academic core of courses.

"Even in poor urban districts, students can and do succeed when they go to college, especially if they take that core curriculum," he said.

Sheehan said the most troubling aspect of the report is that the proportion of Ohio high school students taking the core curriculum has not increased markedly in the past seven years.

"One would have hoped and believed that the message would have gotten out to students before this time," he said.

Grey noted that Ohio recently increased its high school graduation requirements, and in 2005 will introduce a new 10th-grade graduation test, replacing the state ninth-grade proficiency test.

"We believe over time that will impact students being ready and their success in college," she said.

Grey also noted that the report does not include data on Ohio high school graduates who attend college outside of Ohio.

XThe report is available at www.regents.state.oh.us/perfrpt/2002HSindex.html.




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