Ohio's High School Challenge

Ohio’s high school students are ill-prepared for college level work. Evidence of this abounds. In December, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) reported, “41 percent of Ohio’s high school graduates took at least one college remedial class in math, reading or writing in the fall of 2003…. That’s up from 38 percent in fall 2000.” This number is particularly surprising when one considers that nearly 20 percent of Ohio students drop out before completing high school. The numbers are worse for minorities—only 59 percent of blacks high school seniors and 57 percent of the state’s Latinos high school seniors received a high school diploma in 2003.

Such bleak statistics were once excused because it was believed that workplace skills were less demanding than the skills required at college. A new study just released by ACT, producer of America’s most widely accepted college entrance exam, debunks this argument. ACT’s “Ready for College and Ready for Work: Same or Different?” provides empirical evidence that “whether planning to enter college or workforce training programs after graduation, high school students need to be educated to a comparable level of readiness in reading and mathematics.”  

If Ohioans want education to provide all young people with the opportunity to live meaningful and productive lives, then this report makes clear that high schools must do two things it has failed to do. First, keep students from dropping out. Second, educate all high school students to a common academic expectation, one that prepares them for both post-secondary education and the workforce. Governor Taft’s “Core Curriculum” gets at the second part of this, but it falls on schools and educators across the state to accomplish that second goal without pushing up the dropout rate. This is another of Ohio’s great education challenges.

Ready for College and Ready for Work: Same or Different?” ACT. 

More College Students Need Remedial Help: Ohio Regents Study High-Schoolers’ Transition,” by Jennifer Gonzalez and Scott Stephens, The Plain Dealer, December 6, 2005.

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