Valley graduates still require developmental college courses


By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Like the rest of Ohio, graduates from Mahoning Valley high schools still require developmental math and English courses when they enroll in college, but a state report found a downward trend.

The latest Ohio Remediation Report from the Ohio Department of Higher Education found that the number of Ohio’s high school graduates enrolling in college in 2014 increased while the percentage of students needing remediation decreased.

Youngstown State University changed its admissions policy, effective in fall 2014. It previously followed an open admissions policy and switched to open access.

“We’re seeing a higher number of conditionally admitted students, but our overall numbers are higher, too,” said Martin Abraham, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

In 2013, when YSU remained an open admission university, no applicants were denied admission.

In 2014 and 2015, YSU denied admission to 283 and 244, respectively, said Gary Swegan, YSU’s associate vice president for enrollment planning and management.

“We’re only at 235 for this year so far, but I think that’s because the public is getting the information” about the admissions policy change, he said.

The university continues to admit students conditionally, meaning they don’t meet all of the admission standards, if they agree to fulfill requirements such as meeting with academic advisers and coordinators.

In fall 2013, 627 of the 2,011 freshmen were admitted conditionally; in fall 2014, 341 of the class of 1,821; and in fall 2015, 373 of the 2,068-member class were admitted conditionally.

In Mahoning County, Canfield High School graduates saw the lowest – 20 percent – of students enrolling in college taking developmental math or English.

The city’s East High School saw the highest percentage at 86 percent.

“People are working very hard,” said Stephen Stohla, interim city schools superintendent. “It’s just a very tough process. Nobody wants to hear this, but it took a lot of years to get where we are – and we are moving up. It just takes time.”

About 36 percent of Youngstown Early College graduates took the developmental courses, while 74 percent of Chaney Campus Visual and Performing Arts and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics graduates enrolled in the courses.

At Austintown Fitch, 42 percent of 2014 graduates enrolled in either developmental math or English at college.

Austintown Superintendent Vince Colaluca said he’d like to see lower numbers whenever the subject is the number of students taking developmental courses in college. Some students may not realize the importance of those high school courses while they’re taking them, he said.

“But everybody develops differently,” he said. “We’re going to continue to look at where our instruction is and the rigor of it.”

Cardinal Mooney and Ursuline high schools, both under the Diocese of Youngstown, saw 39 percent and 52 percent of students, respectively, enrolling in the developmental courses.

In Trumbull County, John F. Kennedy Jr. High School in Warren, a Diocese of Youngstown school, saw the lowest percentage of students needing the development courses at 19 percent.

The highest was Liberty with 59 percent.

“We have a good number of students who take part in College Credit Plus” Liberty Superintendent Stan Watson said, referring to the program that enables students to earn college credit while in high school. “I think that’s a high number, but there’s a high number of students who need remedial work, too.”

The latest number isn’t anything new, he said.

“We know we need to continue to work with our students,” Watson said.

About 70 percent of Liberty students live in poverty, the superintendent said.

“It’s a hurdle we need to get past,” he said. “It’s a big hurdle, and it’s one we’re looking to address.”

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