MARIETTA, OH (March 13, 2018)—Ohio Valley Education Service Center (OVESC) and Washington State Community College (WSCC) are taking a small but mighty stand in the effort to combat the national statistics that an overwhelming majority of college freshmen need to take some type of remediation math or English course.

Four years ago, OVESC Superintendent Chris Keylor learned, after reviewing college readiness data, that a significant number of students were required to take math and English remediation courses when they began college. With the desire to eliminate this gap in education, he AND Director of Shared and Administrative Services, Phil Ackerman, reached out to WSCC. The two organizations partnered to establish The Ohio Valley Student Readiness Collaborative.

“Data showed that there was a disconnect between the number of students’ high school teachers and college professors thought were ready for the rigors of college. High School teachers said 80-90 percent of students were ready, while college faculty indicated about 24 percent were ready and didn’t need any type of remediation,” he detailed.

Through this collaboration, high school students are provided with mentorship and additional resources designed specifically to provide a seamless transition from high school to post-secondary education and/or into the workforce. “If students have a good start, their chance of success increases rapidly,” said Keylor.

The value of the program lies in savings—time savings as well as financial savings. When post-secondary students need to take developmental courses before they can enroll in a college-level class, it can result in delays in graduation, require additional expense, and ultimately may not result in credits toward a degree. Ensuring students have these essential skills while they are still in high school gives them a smoother transition into college.

“We want to see more students succeed,” said WSCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Mark Nutter. “Whether they decide to come to WSCC or attend another college, we know that they will be more successful from day one if they can move directly into college-level courses without any remediation.”

Nutter explained that this program focuses on a group of students who are sometimes left out of special programming, students who are in the middle of the pack and are almost, but not quite, college ready. The additional activities and support this program provides will help move these students from almost ready to definitely ready.

The collaborative involves a two-pronged approach that focuses on academic preparedness and life skills. The first facet directly connects instructors from the high schools with WSCC faculty. The two groups work together to identify where college freshmen are lacking in math and English, then the high school teachers build those missing skills directly into their classroom curriculum. The second part of the program pairs students with mentors. In addition to offering one-on-one tutoring to enhance classroom instruction, mentors work with students to help them explore career opportunities and prepare a post-graduation career plan to reach their career goals.

“We have several WSCC employees who have gone through training to be mentors and are now meeting with the students regularly to help encourage them to find an educational path beyond high school that fits their interests and skills,” said Dr. Nutter. “The program has assembled a group of mentors from all walks of life.”

But the guidance also reaches beyond the classroom as these mentors give advice on life skills such as work ethic, communication skills, and teamwork.

“We focus on these life skills because they can have a large impact on their academic skills as well,” stressed OVESC Director of Shared and Administrative Services Phil Akerman.

WSCC worked with OVESC to produce the framework of concepts and activities that formed the Student Readiness Collaborative and helped to secure grant funding from the AT&T Foundation, who has contributed $16,000 to the project since 2015.

In addition to faculty members serving as mentors, the college has provided space for the regular meetings of English and math faculty from high schools and colleges across the southeastern region of Ohio to discuss teaching, learning, and ways to help students transition more successfully from high school to college.

“The partnership [with WSCC] works because we have a group of people that have a solution we have developed together for a problem that we have locally,” said Keylor. “If you get enough committed adults in the same room who are devoted to finding a solution it will be the most effective way to try to resolve this important issue. WSCC has been a leader in the region to help make that happen.”

The program currently has two cohorts comprised of more than 300 high school students from 13 school districts and two career center districts. While this small sampling may not make a huge impact on the national statistics, it is expected to make an impact locally.

To ensure the program’s strategy is on target, these students, during their junior and senior years, are tested using a college placement exam. Testing prior to arriving on a college campus gives instructors the opportunity to provide additional instruction in areas where the tests indicate deficits.

The first cohort of the program, the class of 2018, will graduate later this spring with an expectation of positive outcomes from both OVESC and WSCC officials.

Washington State Community College (WSCC) is proud to partner with local and regional organizations to provide our students with hands-on learning opportunities and additional program support. Our industry-specific partnerships benefit our students through real-world applications and help WSCC fuel our community’s future by providing workforce development in more than 50 certificate and associate degree programs.

For more than 45 years, Washington State Community College has provided residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley the opportunity to realize dreams, to enhance skills, and to broaden understanding. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to move your life in a new direction, Washington State has the classes to suit your needs. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.