Central Ohio high school graduates unprepared for college

Central Ohio High School graduates have been found to be less prepared to enter college than in prior years, according to new statewide data. The annual college readiness report was released by the Ohio Board of Regents and tracks graduates of Ohio public schools who attend public colleges and universities in the state.

Out of those who enrolled in Ohio public colleges and universities, 4 out of 10 took remedial classes in math or English; in some schools the rate was 50%, and in a dozen schools it was as high as 92%.

The average in central Ohio was aligned with the statewide average, but the rate of those needing remedial help in Franklin County and the six neighboring counties went up by 2 points. High schools in urban areas that were already struggling continued to slip.

Suburban districts like Reynoldsburg, Dublin, and  Worthington all received high ratings on state report cards but still had a large number of students needing remedial classes.

“It’s going up at a time when people are expecting higher graduation rates,” said Hunter Boylan, director of the National Center for Developmental Education, housed at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. “The fact that there are heavy casualties suggests that we’re not doing the job we should do.”

The biggest challenge in Ohio is math, with 1/3 of the state’s graduates needing remediation. One out of five students needed remediation in English. The rates in Ohio have stayed the same for more than a decade.

Education officials in the state say that Ohio may be at a turning point. High schools have been working with colleges to meet expectations, and a new rule was put in place this year that will lower remediation rates.

The new rules set a bar that all public colleges must use to decide who needs remediation. In the past, schools were free to set their own standards. “They were different across campuses, and some seemed to be much higher than others,” said Stephanie Davidson, vice chancellor of the Board of Regents.

School districts across the state are looking for ways to cut their remediation rates. Springfield city schools have improved remediation rates by 4% by offering remedial education and extra classes, and by giving students an opportunity to meet college representatives.  To drop remediation rates at their school, South Western district paired with Columbus state to align senior math and English courses with remedial courses at the college.

The percentage of students who need remediation seems to be higher in more urban school districts and is likely to correlate with income levels. Governor Kasich and other officials want to find a way to end remediation because those students who take remediation classes are less likely to graduate from college.

“Rethinking remediation is probably going to be on almost everybody’s plan,” said Stephanie Davidson, vice chancellor at the Ohio Board of Regents.