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Youngstown high school grads are not prepared for higher ed

Published: Tue, March 6, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

It has long been known that for a large number of incoming students at Youngstown State University, the first year of college could well be considered the 13th year of high school. But the extent of the problem has not been clearly defined.

A story in today’s Vindicator goes a long way toward giving the public an inside look at what has been happening academically in the Youngstown City School District. Even the star of the system, Youngstown Early College, is falling short when it comes to its graduates being prepared for college.

The story is based on the 2009 report from the Ohio Board of Regents that was released late last year. It shows that 72 percent of Chaney High School graduates, 83 percent of East High School grads and 38 percent of Early College graduates took either developmental math or developmental English in college.

At Youngstown State, nearly 62 percent of first-time undergraduates took at least one developmental course last fall.

But the problem isn’t confined to the city school system. Seventy-two percent of Campbell Memorial High grads and 80 percent of Sebring’s McKinley High grads took developmental math or English.

Graduates from Canfield, Poland and South Range fared better, but the Ohio Board of Regents’ report shows that 32 percent, 40 percent and 39 percent, respectively, needed remediation in college.

The report doesn’t include information on remediation for students who attend college either out-of-state or at a private college or university.

“The percentage of students that continue their studies after high school is a positive development, but a large proportion of them are not prepared for college-level work either in mathematics or English,” the OBOR study says. “Forty-one percent of those college freshmen enrolled in at least one developmental course in their first year of college.”

Another 34 percent enrolled in developmental math courses and 19 percent enrolled in developmental English course, the report found.

A total of 53,000 recent Ohio high school graduates enrolled in Ohio’s public colleges and universities in the fall of 2009.

The implications of this situation are enormous. One of the most shocking facts about higher education in Ohio is that the average length of time for earning a bachelor’s degree is six years.


There also is the reality that students who aren’t prepared for the academic rigors of higher education drop out after the first and second year.

Then, there’s the cost.

Attending a four-year institution is more expensive than attending a two-year community college, which is why Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, and his chancellor, Jim Petro, have taken the same position as their predecessors, former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, and former Chancellor Eric Fingerhut, namely, that high school students who need remediation should attend two-year institutions.

Youngstown schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn and the board of education have implemented major changes to ensure that learning does take place in the classroom.

Even so, Dr. Hathorn, in reaction to the Ohio Board of Regents’ remediation study, says the district needs to work with YSU and other higher education institutions to determine how high schoolers can be better prepared academically for what awaits them.

Ohio’s public universities and colleges also have an incentive to ensure that their students perform at an acceptable level. That’s because the formula for higher education state funding is based on the retention and graduation rates of the students.


1walter_sobchak(2713 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

OK, once again, the point is obviously being missed. Not everyone is college material and they learn the lesson the hard way. College is higher education, not job training. It is elitist to believe that everyone should attend college as a certain occupier of 1600 Penn. Ave believes. Now, it is true that many companies want their employees to have a two-year degree so that they have demonstrated some ability to achieve something. But, these need to be obtained a lower-cost community colleges. Why is it that this country has denigrated such positions as mechanic, plumber, mason, etc. Anyone with good skills can live quite well in these positions. Certified welders can make a great living.

That being said, Dr. Hathorn's plan with Chaney needs a few years before it is evaluated. It is a fantastic idea and should pay off. But, it takes a willingly dedicated student to make it work. Students in Y-town would do well to look at Dr. Hathorn as a role model.

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2Westsider(269 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Walter_sobchak - I agree with you - however, every high school graduate who wishes to advance in today's job market needs some sort of postsecondary training - whether a certificate program or apprenticeship. Attendance at a two year college to prep for more education is certainly one option - however, there needs to be more of an investment by employers into training programs at the adult and technical career centers - where those who successfully complete will be immediately accepted into jobs. Certainly for several areas, an associate or bachelor's or even master's degree is required. There should be stronger ties between the career programs, community colleges, and four-year instituions, and the employment community to provide the skill set and technology for which employees are needed.

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3VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

One of the most serious issues with teens today is lack of parental supervision. Many students have too much unsupervised time, thus their education suffers. What can be distressing is hearing our students talk with such broken English and mumbling slang. I hear foreign students today speaking better English than many of our American students. It is shocking to read and interview employment applicants coming out of our schools today. These students are clueless, immature and unfocused.

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4Education_Voter(1173 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Walter Sobchak, I agree.
Besides that, this editorial is biased against one school system.
Check out what they DIDN'T say.
These are from a chart in the print version of the paper.
Remediation Rates:
Youngstown Christian 81%
Sebring McKinley 80%
Chaney and Campbell exactly the same.
JFK, Warren, for cripes sake, 62% (Compare that to Youngstown's Early College High School with 38%)
Who knows what other schools are not mentioned at all.
And why are we getting around to talking about a 2009 report now? It's subjects have probably graduated or dropped out by now.

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5skytopbruster(9 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Since 2008, I've gone to quite a few graduations at YSU, and I'm always amazed that the MAJORITY of graduates are in the Business Administration!
Since the 1980s many schools eliminated their "Trade Shop" courses. As a retired truck mechanic, I can see many of my generation retiring, and not enough trained younger people stepping up to fill these spots.

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6Traveler(606 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I worked for a large company that wanted some type of post high school training no matter what field compared to the job. When i once got a chance to ask the owner of the company why he told me high school is useless anymore. He figures if you can do two year of collage or a trade school and come out of it with some type of degree that your trainable.
Pretty sad that like him a high school diploma no longer means that you can be taught basic job skills to be a useful employee

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