Graduation season is upon us, but many high school seniors have been coasting for months.
Ohio education officials hope to change that by revamping the senior year of high school and having students take college classes, do apprenticeships or get technical training.
“We have to find a way to maximize the12th- grade year,” said Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro on WCPN 90.3’s The Sound of Ideas this morning.
“We know that that can be very valuable. We know that very often kids have kind of completed their mandated courses, they’ve got their heavy lifting finished, and they kind of coast through senior year.”
By the time the second half of senior year rolls around, many students have completed their course requirements for graduation and may have even figured out where they will be going to college next fall. But Petro said the problem extends beyond students who have it all figured out and are chilling for the final months of their senior year.
Petro said, “Time is of the essence, and when we think about a failure to complete a degree – which is from my perspective a crisis in Ohio – we have too many kids who start college and college level work and don’t complete a degree.”
Petro said less than half of students who start college actually get a degree “because they take too much time in the process.”
In fact, 41 percent of Ohio students have to take at least one remedial course in college, and studies show students who need remedial education are less likely to finish their degrees.
The idea behind the overhaul is that by engaging students in post-secondary classes, internships or vocational programs, they won’t have that lag time to fall behind. If they aren’t ready for college academically, senior year is the time to catch up, and maybe even get a bit of a boost.
But students aren’t just getting to college academically unprepared. Rosemary Sutton, vice provost and education professor at Cleveland State University, said students often are not ready for the “freedom of college.”
“In high school, the teachers track the kids down, they know where they are, the parents are involved,” Sutton said. “By the time you go to college, there’s less of that, you go to class more often, you have to manage yourself better…and some of our students struggle with that enormously. “
Sutton said not only do programs like postsecondary classes help students’ progress academically, they also help prepare them emotionally for the college lifestyle.
You can listen to the entire Sound of Ideas here.