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David Harrison, president of Columbus State Community College

The Columbus Dispatch
Group reports progress in plan to encourage post-high-school education
By Mary Mogan Edwards
Apr 12, 2017

Five years after the Central Ohio Compact was formed to increase the number of people in the area with some education or training beyond high school, progress remains slow. But there is progress, Columbus State Community College President David Harrison told about 300 people gathered Monday for an annual update on the project.

The Compact, which was organized by Columbus State and includes colleges, school districts and area employers, aims to have 65 percent of adults holding post-secondary degrees or credentials by 2025. Ideally, those degrees and credentials should prepare their holders for the thousands of jobs that are going or will go unfilled because too few potential employees have the skills needed.

More than $30 million in grants from industry, government and philanthropic groups support projects to encourage people to enroll in degree programs or training, sometimes tied to specific career opportunities.

Some were highlighted Monday. Scot McLemore, manager of talent acquisition at Honda North America, described how Worthington City Schools graduates who have taken a special set of engineering courses in high school can work at Honda three days a week while pursuing associate degrees at Columbus State. They also can go on to get bachelor’s degrees at Miami University. Columbus State coordinates the program with a grant of about $900,000 from the National Science Foundation.

Many of the graduates are hired full time by Honda, McLemore said.

Partnerships between Columbus State, four-year colleges and school districts create programs that can launch a ninth-grader on a prescribed path to an associate or bachelor’s degree.

“We’re doing what we said we were going to do,” Harrison said Monday. “It is not happening as quickly as hoped, but we’re still at the table and we’re still working.”

Compact data show that, if nothing changed in the rates of students who graduate high school and obtain further education, the region wouldn’t reach that 65 percent goal before 2060. So Compact members are developing programs that make it easier to get degrees and credentials and help high schools and colleges tailor their instruction to prepare students for the industries that need workers.

One measure of progress — the percentage of high-school graduates who enroll right away in a public college or university — went backward, dipping to 38 percent, from about 42 percent, between 2010 and 2015. But other measures, especially those that indicate how well graduates are prepared for post-secondary education, have improved.

Most dramatically, in 2014-15, just under 35 percent of central Ohio high-school graduates were enrolled in remedial classes in college, down from about 45 percent in 2010-11. The state overall remains at about 40 percent, and eliminating the need for expensive and time-consuming catch-up work has been a top state priority.

In the same time period, the percentage of high-school students earning college credit before graduation has risen by a third, from 3 percent of all graduates to 4 percent. That number likely has gone up significantly since 2014-15 with the advent of College Credit Plus, the state’s dual-enrollment program.

Central Ohio also has seen a rise in the percentage of high-schoolers who graduate in four years, from 75 percent in 2010-11 to just under 80 percent in 2014-15.

That’s all good, but more central Ohio families need to know about what the Compact is doing, said Steve Dackin, the former Reynoldsburg City School District superintendent who oversees the compact for Columbus State.

“I feel good about the progress we’ve made, but I feel we’ve underperformed when it comes to communication,” Dackin said. “Families and students are largely unaware of the opportunities for earning college credit that exist in central Ohio.”

Read this and other articles at the Columbus Dispatch

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