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Published: Thursday, 11/30/2000

Ohio colleges get subpar ratings in national study

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Once again, Ohio's schools did not make the grade. This time, the report cards focused on the state's colleges and universities rather than its public school districts.

A national study released today shows Ohio with major deficiencies in the affordability of higher education and low ratings in its participation rates. Michigan faired slightly better than Ohio, besting it in four of five categories, but neither state received an “A.”

The first-time study titled “Measuring Up 2000” was compiled by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with offices in San Jose, Calif. Ohio's lowest mark was in affordability, where it received a “D-,” based on the relatively large share of family income that must be devoted to covering college costs, both public and private. Michigan received a “C” based on its relatively lower costs for private colleges.

The grades of both states reflect poor performance in providing financial aid for low-income students and families, the study said.

In evaluating participation, the study found that only 39 per cent of high school freshmen in Ohio enroll in college within four years, well below the 54 per cent in top states. Michigan's figures were similar, but it had a higher proportion of young adults under the age of 24 enrolled in postsecondary education.

The study also rated states on how prepared high school students are for training beyond high school, if students make progress toward degrees in a timely manner, and what benefits a state receives by having a highly educated population. In these categories, Ohio averaged a “C+” and Michigan averaged a “B-.”

All states received an incomplete in the category of learning because academic achievement of college students could not be measured in a way that would permit national comparisons.

Officials with the Ohio Board of Regents said the report confirms statements they have been making for years about an education deficit in Ohio.

“The national report confirms that Ohio is not yet a leader in effectively using its higher education institutions to prepare its citizens for the competitive environment of the 21st century,” Chancellor Roderick Chu said in a written statement last night.

Too few Ohio high school graduates go on to college, and those who attend public colleges pay high tuition because of low state support, he said.

The regents are expected to release their own performance report on state-supported colleges and universities next month.

Dick Eastop, interim vice president of enrollment and placement services at the University of Toledo, said many of the results do not surprise him.

Knowing that preparing students for college is a challenge, the university has engaged in several programs to work with primary and secondary students and teachers across the area, he said.

Dr. Stanley Caine, president of Adrian College, said a number of factors need to be understood when examining a study like this, including economic indicators in different states.



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