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Published: Tuesday, 9/13/2005

High school students not challenged, Ohioans say

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Eighty-nine percent of Ohioans said most high school students are not being challenged by their schoolwork, according to a new opinion survey on education reform released yesterday.

The poll, conducted by ETS, a nonprofit institution in Princeton, N.J., also found that 75 percent of Ohioans favor requiring students to pass a statewide graduation test before they can receive a diploma.

Ohio high school students now must pass the Ohio Graduation Test, a five-subject exam, before graduation. Students can begin taking the test as sophomores and retake it until they pass all sections.

Jan Kilbride, assistant superintendent of high schools for Toledo Public Schools, said schools have responded to that concern.

"We already have been raising the bar by realigning our curriculum to the [graduation test]," she said. "We also require that students have an academic major. There is a belief we need to make high school more rigorous, and I believe we are responding to that in a number of ways."

Ms. Kilbride admitted that more students may struggle in schools with higher standards.

The poll results are from the Ohio component of Ready for the Real World? Americans Speak on High School Reform, ETS's fifth annual "Americans Speak" public opinion poll.

Susan Tave Zelman, Ohio chief of public instruction, said high schools have made advances, but more needs to be done.

"Even though Ohio's educators are improving achievement in high school reading, mathematics, and other subject areas, too many students are still leaving school unprepared for the future," she said.

The survey results also showed that 71 percent of Ohioans strongly favor that teachers be experts in their subjects, and 64 percent of Ohioans strongly or somewhat agree the nation should increase salaries to hire and retain more well-qualified teachers, even if it means higher taxes. But 33 percent oppose increasing salaries, compared with 18 percent nationally.



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