Canton Repository

February 11, 2004

Report could help assessment of high schools, Taft says

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — At least one-fourth of the nation’s college students need remedial classes and many employers say high school graduates lack basic skills for the workplace, according to a report released Tuesday.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft endorsed the report by the American Diploma Project, which read like an indictment of the public education system. Taft, who spoke here at the unveiling of the report, said he expected Ohio to use the report to improve its own high school graduation assessments.

“With this new report we’ll be able to look at our (graduation test), see what it requires, and (look at) our course requirements in high school, and how these requirements compare with the Diploma Project standards for success in college or the workplace,” he said. “And then we can develop a roadmap to fill in the gap between where we are and where we need to go.”

The report, the product of almost two years of research, promotes knowledge and skills that the authors depict as essential for success in higher education or employment.

It includes learning benchmarks in English and math that the organization said can be used to align what students learn in high school with what they need to know in college or the workplace.

In math, the benchmarks include content from algebra, geometry and statistics. The report calls for strong skills in communications, analysis and reasoning among its English benchmarks.

“Boosting the number of students who are called proficient without ensuring they also are prepared for their futures is a hollow exercise,” said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve Inc., a standards-oriented advocacy group that helped sponsor the project.

Cohen said states can use the report to “set the right standards and put students on pathways to success.”

Researchers talked to many high school teachers, college professors and employers to determine what high school students need to know, according to the project.

Taft, who is co-chairman of Achieve, said the Ohio Department of Education will study the report and look for ideas to strengthen the state assessment and improve high school curriculum.

The Republican governor added that it would take at least two years before any of the report’s benchmarks would start appearing in the state test, which students must pass in order to graduate beginning in 2007.

He also did not know how the state test might be modified based on the project report.

The report is part of a larger effort to improve public education. The federal No Child Left Behind law requires states to establish academic standards and ad-minister tests to measure student performance.