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Report: County students less likely to go to college

June 01, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

WASHINGTON COUNTY

School officials hope the hundreds of high school seniors graduating next week will buck a decade-long trend that suggests Washington County seniors are less likely to go to college and that those who do are more likely to need remedial help in English than other high school graduates in the state.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission's 2005 Student Outcome Achievement Report (SOAR), shows that Washington County had the largest proportion of "college-bound" seniors assessed to be in need of remedial English in the state.

The report, the sixth issued since 1990, surveys how well high school graduates who entered college four years previously performed during their first year in college.

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More recent accounts from the Maryland Department of Education suggest that Washington County seniors are less likely to attend two- or four-year colleges.

According to the Maryland Department of Education's 2006 "Report Card," a little fewer than half of the 1,258 students who graduated from a Washington County high school in 2005 said they planned to attend college. The state average was 63 percent.

Washington County Public Schools officials did not dispute the figures in the reports, which they said were based on self-reported data. However, school officials said that data should be interpreted cautiously.

"Any numbers now wouldn't reflect the increased rigors that county high schools have put into place," school spokeswoman Carol Mowen said.

Boyd Michael, executive director for secondary instruction, said that since 2002, the school system has added more Advanced Placement English courses and an additional senior writing course.

Michael also noted the report only includes information about students who go on to attend Maryland higher education institutions.

"We have a lot of students who are getting big money scholarships to go all over the place but they are not getting the success story in the SOAR report," he said.

According to the Maryland Higher Education Commission, Washington County residents made up more than half of Hagerstown Community College's freshman student body in the fall of 2004.

HCC president Guy Altieri said roughly 68 percent of incoming freshmen needed some form of remediation in one or more courses each year. He said HCC had been working with public schools officials and planned to administer its entrance exam to high school students before they graduate in order to assess their preparedness for college.

"The area school district is working hard on it," Altieri said. "I'm optimistic we will see that decline."




Report highlights



About 1,300 high school seniors are expected to graduate in Washington County Public Schools next week.

  • Of the 411 Washington County graduates who entered a Maryland college in 2002, more than 36 percent needed remediation in English.

  • Of the 264 Washington County graduates who entered a Maryland college in 2002 and said they took college-bound classes in high school, 32 percent needed remediation in English. The state average was 22 percent.

  • Of the 1,258 students who graduated from a Washington County public high school last year, 48 percent planned to attend a two-year or four-year school. The state average was 63 percent, according to the Maryland Department of Education.


Source: The Maryland Higher Education Commission

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