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College task force can learn in Stark

By Anonymous
Posted Aug 14, 2012 @ 12:00 PM
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Ohio is in the bottom quarter of states for college-educated residents. Only 26 percent of adults have earned a four-year degree; the national average is 31 percent.

Why does this matter? One reason is on everyone’s mind these days: The low percentage makes Ohio a less attractive place for businesses that need skilled workers.

With this and other concerns in mind, Ohio Chancellor Jim Petro has created a task force that begins meeting this week to plan strategies that will help more Ohioans to earn two- and four-year degrees. As this process begins, it’s worth pointing out that some of Petro’s ideas already have found fertile ground in Stark County.

One statewide initiative will include support for more dual-enrollment programs, so that high school students can earn college credit or enter internships or apprenticeships in their chosen field. Stark County already has the second-largest dual-enrollment program in the state, after Cuyahoga County.

More than 5,200 Stark high school students have earned more than 28,000 college credit hours since 2006, according to the Stark Education Partnership. This group includes

550 students who ended up changing their plans and enrolling directly in college. The Partnership estimates that these students already have increased their lifetime earning potential by a collective $130.5 million,

a benefit that will grow to

$423.6 million if they earn their undergraduate degrees.

Petro’s task force also will study replacing the Ohio Graduation Test with the ACT or another college-readiness assessment that can guide high school students’ course choices and “increase the likelihood of students being college or career-ready upon high school graduation.”

This change has been advocated by retired Judge W. Don Reader, chairman of the Stark Education Partnership Board of Directors, for many years. As he wrote in a Rep column three years before former Gov. Ted Strickland proposed dumping the OGT in 2009: “The ACT test indicates not only the ability to graduate from high school but also the ability to go on to college. ... The cost for a student to take the ACT is only $29. So what have the taxpayers of Ohio gained from the State Board of Education’s $107 million contract with Measurement Inc. (which designed and graded the Ohio Graduation Test)? Answer: nothing.”

The task force will look at several other promising ideas. Petro is quick to note that it will take a few years for the initiatives to show results. Fortunately, Stark County already is recognized statewide as a laboratory for efforts to promote seamless learning from pre-kindergarten through college. The task force should look for some inspiration and guidance here.

Ohio is in the bottom quarter of states for college-educated residents. Only 26 percent of adults have earned a four-year degree; the national average is 31 percent.

Why does this matter? One reason is on everyone’s mind these days: The low percentage makes Ohio a less attractive place for businesses that need skilled workers.

With this and other concerns in mind, Ohio Chancellor Jim Petro has created a task force that begins meeting this week to plan strategies that will help more Ohioans to earn two- and four-year degrees. As this process begins, it’s worth pointing out that some of Petro’s ideas already have found fertile ground in Stark County.

One statewide initiative will include support for more dual-enrollment programs, so that high school students can earn college credit or enter internships or apprenticeships in their chosen field. Stark County already has the second-largest dual-enrollment program in the state, after Cuyahoga County.

More than 5,200 Stark high school students have earned more than 28,000 college credit hours since 2006, according to the Stark Education Partnership. This group includes

550 students who ended up changing their plans and enrolling directly in college. The Partnership estimates that these students already have increased their lifetime earning potential by a collective $130.5 million,

a benefit that will grow to

$423.6 million if they earn their undergraduate degrees.

Petro’s task force also will study replacing the Ohio Graduation Test with the ACT or another college-readiness assessment that can guide high school students’ course choices and “increase the likelihood of students being college or career-ready upon high school graduation.”

This change has been advocated by retired Judge W. Don Reader, chairman of the Stark Education Partnership Board of Directors, for many years. As he wrote in a Rep column three years before former Gov. Ted Strickland proposed dumping the OGT in 2009: “The ACT test indicates not only the ability to graduate from high school but also the ability to go on to college. ... The cost for a student to take the ACT is only $29. So what have the taxpayers of Ohio gained from the State Board of Education’s $107 million contract with Measurement Inc. (which designed and graded the Ohio Graduation Test)? Answer: nothing.”

The task force will look at several other promising ideas. Petro is quick to note that it will take a few years for the initiatives to show results. Fortunately, Stark County already is recognized statewide as a laboratory for efforts to promote seamless learning from pre-kindergarten through college. The task force should look for some inspiration and guidance here.

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