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Area’s college-bound grads lacking in math, English

By BRIAN BOHNERT
STAFF WRITER
According to a new report from the Ohio Board of Regents, 40 percent of high school graduates in 2012 needed remedial math or English classes when pursuing higher education.
The report, released in December, examined Ohio high school graduates who attended in-state community colleges and universities in 2012. Of the state’s 51,627 first-time college students who enrolled that year, 40 percent required remedial math or English classes to prepare them for college-level coursework.
“What this report has shown us is that Ohio needs to do a better job educating its students,” said Ohio Department of Education spokesperson John Charlton. “When 40 percent of our high school graduates need remedial courses, we’ve failed that 40 percent of students.”
Mathematics was shown to generate the strongest need in the state as 34 percent of entering students took just remedial math classes while 20 percent signed up for additional English help. Only 14 percent of Ohio’s incoming college students needed aid in both math and English, according to the report.
Locally, Fostoria City Schools had the highest percentage of students requiring remedial math or English in 2012 with 69 percent. The Hopewell-Loudon School District boasted the lowest numbers with 37 percent of its graduates needing additional assistance in math or English.
Other local districts examined in the report included: Elmwood Local Schools with 56 percent; Arcadia with 60 percent; Lakota Local Schools with 55 percent; and, New Riegel with 43 percent needing additional help in math or English, according to the report.
Much like the state’s averages, all local districts were shown to need much more help in math than in English. Of the six area school systems, Lakota had 55 percent of its students taking just remedial math courses upon entering higher education. The lowest math statistic in the area came from New Riegel with 36 percent.
Charlton said remediation places a dark cloud over struggling students, adding to their course load and heightening the already looming debt most face upon graduation. In addition, he said students who begin their college careers taking remedial coursework are more likely to drop out of college.
“If you’re a 17- or 19-year-old student and you’ve already spent a couple thousand dollars to take these remedial courses that don’t count towards your degree, is that not discouraging?” he said. “What’s going to make you come back to college? You’re not learning how to get to a degree. You’re learning basic reading, basic math and basic English to get caught up. It’s certainly a detriment to the students. What is inspiring them to come back?”
Charlton said he hopes new state Department of Education initiatives like the revamped report card system, more in-depth teacher evaluations and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee will get to students early and better prepare them for college or a career right out of high school.
“In 2011, we had something like 27,000 third graders not proficient reading in a third-grade level,” he said. “… Now, we’re testing students as early as their first week in kindergarten to determine if they’re on track to read at a third-grade level. We’re not going to see results from that for 12 to 13 years; but, you have to buckle in for the long haul.”
Jeff Robinson, director of communications for Ohio Board of Regents, said the data in the remediation report was compiled before the state’s remediation pre-standards were set this year. With the information compiled and released in December of each year, he said the numbers for 2014 should yield more of a “dramatic,” positive change.
Fostoria City Schools Superintendent Andrew Sprang declined to provide any comment on the data because he had not yet seen the board’s report.

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