Shouldn’t College and Career-Ready Students be a Given?
The Columbus Dispatch ran an article recently entitled “College, School Erase Remedial Courses.”(11/20/11) The gist of the article is fairly straight-forward. Reynoldsburg City Schools has embarked on a new program with Columbus State Community College designed to eliminate the need for remedial coursework at the college level. The computer-based math courses were designed by Columbus State, required special training for the teacher, and ensures that students master 85% of the material of each module before they can move on in the course. So far, so good, right? Who can argue that this is a bad idea? Not me. But then I read the following quote and just about choked on my morning coffee. Jack Cooley, the dean of arts and sciences at Columbus State says,
“I give the high schools immense credit for coming to realize the discrepancy between being able to graduate and being college-ready.”
Okay, so I actually think Reynoldsburg is doing the right thing here, but really is this how stupid we have become in Ohio? Do we really have to give “immense credit” to high schools for turning out graduates who are college- or career-ready? Silly me, I was under the impression that this was the whole purpose of high school. Of course, I already know that Ohio’s high schools are not always preparing their students for college or careers. The average remediation rate for students graduating from Ohio districts was 41% in 2009 according to the Ohio Board of Regents. That is an astounding figure. Pictorial, it looks even more interesting:
For those of you having trouble reading the index, the deeper blue color denotes a lower college remediation rate. Deep red means the remediation is high. As one can see from the map, there is a whole lotta red going on in Ohio’s districts. Given that almost 60% of Ohio’s districts are rated excellent or excellent with distinction, it seems counter-intuitive that there are so many districts that are turning out students who are not prepared for college or career level work. How did Ohio get to this point? As with so many issues there is no single best answer to this question. But one thing is crystal clear to me. Until we have an education accountability system in Ohio that relies less on minimal mastery of low standards and more on measures such college remediation rates, we will continue to see highly-rated districts that are doing little to address issues such as college remediation.
For now, kudos to Reynoldsburg. They are doing the right thing for students even though Ohio’s current accountability system provides no reward for their efforts. Surely, that makes no sense. I wonder how long Ohioans will have to wait for policymakers to develop a more coherent education accountability system that looks at measures beyond minimal standards? If we are to be competitive on a national and international basis, we cannot afford to wait too long.