Only 28 percent of Ohio high school grads are college-ready

Ohio high school students in the class of 2012 beat the national average score on the ACT, but the state said there is still work to do to prepare students for college and their careers.

Just 28 percent of Ohio’s graduates in 2012 were ready for college in every subject on the standardized test, according to new data released Wednesday.

The results also show Ohio’s minorities are less prepared: Just 4 percent of black students and 18 percent of Hispanic students were college-ready in English, math, reading and science, compared to 32 percent of white students.

Overall, Ohioans scored an average 21.8 out of a possible 36 composite score for the third year in a row — slightly better than the 21.1 national average.

“We recognize that there is a lot of improvement we need to make here in the state of Ohio,” said John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education. “We’re not doing a good job of educating our students and preparing them for the future.”

The testing company claimed that the latest results show that most of the nation’s high school graduates are “ill-prepared for success at the next level.” But local colleges said they do not admit or deny students based on ACT scores alone. Standardized test scores are one factor considered by many schools, along with essays, references, high school grade-point averages and activities.

“In an evaluation of a student who applies, the high school course selection and the grades in those courses tell us more about that student than a standardized test score,” said Robert Durkle, assistant vice president for enrollment management at the University of Dayton.

And while the ACT company said scores can predict what grade a student might get in a college course, Ann Larson, director of admission at Miami University, said test scores must be put into context with other information.

“We never say if you have a great test score you’re going to do well at a university,” she said.

Wittenberg University allows students to opt out of providing scores from the ACT or SAT.

“Since we are a school that talks about development of the whole person, what you do in one day on a standardize test doesn’t reflect who you are as a whole person,” said Karen Hunt, executive director of admission at Wittenberg University.

At Wright State University, a score of at least 18 on the ACT can help students meet admission requirements, said Cathy Davis, assistant vice president of undergraduate admissions.

“It helps give us another gauge of a student’s academic ability,” she said.

Ohio shied away from the ACT as its uniform requirement and instead chose to have all high school sophomores take the PSAT starting in 2015, Charlton said. Still, ACT scores can be used to qualify for merit scholarships at most universities.

Durkle said test scores can be used to ensure students are placed in the proper classes or given the help they need to succeed.

Kim Fish, who coordinates Springfield City School’s college readiness activities, said the test results can be useful to individual students to ensure they are challenging themselves.

“The kids that are coming out of high school today … they are going to be competing with kids from across the United States and the most driven kids from across the world,” Fish said. “The earlier they can get a personal look at how they stack up, when they can still take classes and work a little harder … the better.”

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