States to prepare grads for college and careers



Requirements need to align with higher education and the workplace.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ohio and Pennsylvania are moving in the right direction to align their high school educational standards with real-world expectations, according to a nonprofit organization created to help states raise academic standards.
A nationwide survey conducted by Achieve Inc. found that both states are in the process of creating high school curriculum requirements that help prepare students for college as well as business and industry.
Further, Ohio has plans to implement a program to specifically align more rigorous high school graduation requirements with college and workplace expectations.
The report points out that Ohio has created a statewide committee to establish mathematics and English expectations for college readiness to make sure that students get the knowledge and skills they need to be ready for credit-bearing courses.
The survey results, released Wednesday, show that Pennsylvania isn't taking a similar step at this time, though it is developing a new data system that will track students from high school through college and beyond, something Ohio has yet to undertake.
Progress
Pennsylvania also is working on a policy to hold high schools accountable for graduating students being ready for college and work, something Ohio doesn't have on the drawing board yet.
The survey, "Closing the Expectations Gap 2006," comes just one year after 45 of the nation's governors joined educational and business leaders at a National Education Summit.
They were presented with some sobering statistics: One-third of students drop out of high school; a third of those who go on to college need remedial courses; and nearly half of those entering the work force out of high school find they are not prepared.
The world that today's high school students will encounter is vastly different from the one their parents faced. The expectations for high school graduates haven't kept pace with the demands in the workplace and postsecondary institutions, the survey said.
Mike Cohen, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Achieve Inc., said he was impressed with the progress shown since that summit in closing the gap between what is expected of students in high school and what is expected of them in college and the world of work.
Survey results
The survey shows that 35 states are taking steps to align high school standards with college and workplace expectations.
Ohio's Gov. Bob Taft is co-chairman of the Achieve Inc. board of directors.
"We're not producing enough college graduates," Taft said, kicking off a telephone press conference marking the release of the survey.
Too many students are being lost in high school and not graduating, he said, adding there is "a huge gap" between high school and the requirements of college and the world of work.
Many jobs, even entry-level positions, require postsecondary education and/or training, and high schools need to meet that demand, Taft said.
Closing the gap is the centerpiece of Ohio's educational program, the governor said, noting that more rigorous high school requirements, having junior high school students take college and work-ready assessment tests and creating programs to allow high school students to earn a semester of college credit before graduation are all a part of the package.
gwin@vindy.com

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