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Published: Tuesday, 1/8/2013

College-work standards set

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

New state standards will allow some Ohio students to test out of remediation-level college courses, possibly reducing the cost for college and the time it takes to earn a degree.

The standards issued for Ohio’s public colleges and universities are a uniform criteria for college readiness that was previously left up to schools to decide. Students who score high enough on tests such as the ACT or SAT will be considered "remediation free," and won't have to enroll in developmental courses in English, writing, and math that may cost students the same, but don't count toward credit requirements.

It's hard to tell how many students at area colleges and universities the new standards will impact; if for nothing else, educators said, the standards will serve as a gauge for students to know if they are college ready.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of students in remedial classes, as the state said about 41 percent of public high school students entering Ohio's higher education institutions required remedial coursework, which can negatively impact graduation rates.

"Students who begin taking developmental courses have a harder time with degree completion," University of Toledo's Vice Provost Margaret Traband said. "The institution will be much better if the students are actually in college level courses and are progressing toward timely degree."

The change will mean more money for students, she said.

The University of Toledo only has remedial courses in math; the university typically has between 500 and 600 students enrolled in its two developmental math courses in fall semesters, Ms. Traband said.

Schools will still have placement exams that determine in what courses entering students should be placed, but students who meet the uniform state standards would be exempt from remedial courses. The standards also come with expectations for what students should know in English, writing, math, and science; there are not yet remediation-free standards for science.

Administrators at Bowling Green State University - which has more selective enrollment standards than UT, an open enrollment school - similarly don't expect the new standards to bump many students out of remedial courses. But Rodney Rogers, BGSU's provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, said the standards are a good idea for the state.

"I think what this has done has really set clear expectations of what students coming into the college experience (should know)," Mr. Rogers said.

While the area's large public universities may not have many students in remedial courses, about 60 percent of students at Owens Community College require developmental courses, president Mike Bower said. Those include recent high school graduates and nontraditional students. 

While he's a fan of the standards, he said that not meeting them doesn't necessarily mean a student needs remediation, and school placement assessments are still necessary.

"You could have students who don't test well," he said. "Maybe you find out they scored low on the SAT, and they may take the assessment and they may score high."

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.



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