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September 27, 2008
Section: Local News

Got math? Program helps students prepare for college before they get there
MELISSA GRIFFY SEETON

MELISSA.GRIFFY@CANTONREP.COM

BREWSTER Fairless Schools math teacher Gina Stanford knows nowadays it's about more than getting your students into college it's about keeping them there.
And it starts in classrooms such as hers.

Math is a sticking point for many students, and when they get to the college level, it can make the difference between whether a student stays in college or drops out.

A student at Stark State College or Kent State University Stark who takes one remedial class has a slightly better than 50 percent chance of staying in school, according to the Stark Education Partnership.

The partnership is working with public colleges and high schools to help high school students improve their math skills so they don't have to take remedial math classes in college. Those college courses generally do not count toward a student's degree.

"It's wasting time and money," Annie Cotton, a senior at Fairless High School, said of having to take remedial courses in college.

And this 17-year-old who's involved in numerous activities ranging from student council to volleyball knows a lot about time management. She also is enrolled in post-secondary option, where she takes courses at Stark State four days a week.

Cotton hopes to become a physician's assistant one day. And as a high school senior, she'll already have completed some of the classes, including introduction to anatomy and physiology, that she needs for her degree.

MOVING AHEAD

All 17 county school districts and Canton City Schools are participating in the two-year math remediation project, which tests high school seniors and juniors in the skills required to enter first-year college math classes. High schools are working with officials at Stark State and KSU Stark to develop classes to teach students the skills they lack.

"These students will come to us better academically prepared and will have a greater chance of attaining their two- or four-year degrees," said Betsy Boze, KSU Stark dean. "Ultimately, this will grow the number of Stark County residents with higher-education degrees and impact our economic future."

Fairless Local School District teachers are focused on preparing students for college and what college professors expect students to know.

"We need to amp up what we are doing, not necessarily content-wise, but encourage our students to figure things out on their own," Stanford said. "At the high school level, we give them a lot of hints."

The Stark Education Partnership is encouraging this type of engagement. In 2002, it formed a P-16 Compact which aims to provide a smooth transition from preschool through college in an attempt to increase high school graduation rates and the number of students enrolling in college. The Partnership, as well as the Ohio College Access Network and the Stark County Educational Service Center, are providing funding for the math remediation project.

"Stark County's tradition of collaboration and cooperation is setting the standard for the entire state," said Adrienne O'Neill, Partnership president. "Taking action to address challenges is the only acceptable course as we move Stark County ahead."

Images associated with this article:
(Click to open) HARD AT WORK Matt Fair works to solve arithmetic problems in Gina Stanford's remedial math class, which she conducts for Fairless Local Schools. REPOSITORY STAN MYERS


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