South-Western City School District officials are examining the way the district prepares students for college and careers.

South-Western City School District officials are examining the way the district prepares students for college and careers.

The school board on March 26 heard Erik Shuey, SWCS executive director of secondary learning and athletics, give a presentation on the development of a college and career readiness culture within the district.

"This has been one of my passions this year," Shuey said.

The college and career readiness improvements are in part an effort to address the remedial coursework often required of students once they get to college, he said.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, 41 percent of first-year students who enrolled in a public Ohio college in 2008 required remedial courses in mathematics or English.

Shuey and a committee of about 17 staff members examined 2008-11 data, including state report card statistics, high school graduation rates, attendance rates, and ACT and Advanced Placement score statistics.

The district has slightly improved in several areas since the 2008-09 school year. For example, the district's designation on its state-issued report card has improved from "Continuous Improvement" to "Excellent." The high school graduation rate also improved, from 87 percent in 2008-09 to 88.5 percent in 2010-11. The number of students taking the ACT has increased from 662 in 2008-09 to 715 in 2010-11. The composite score for those years has increased from 20.3 to 21.2 out of 36.

More students are taking AP tests, although the number of courses offered (eight) has remained the same since 2009. In 2008-09, 593 students took AP tests. In 2010-11, 720 students took AP tests, earning a composite score of 2.46 out of 5.

"We're really getting better," Shuey told The Record.

Shuey said the culture will include eight components: Career aspirations, academic planning, experiences beyond the classroom, post high school exploration, college and career assessments, affordability planning, college and career entrance planning, and transition planning.

The district is working with the Ohio College Access Network, the Ohio School Counseling Association, the Ohio Association for College Admissions Counseling, the Ohio Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.

"Every single high school, including the Career Academy, is currently partnered to be working on the remediation issue," Shuey said.

Shuey said students should begin developing goals for their future careers and education in middle school.

More attention to college and career should follow when students are in high school, he said.

"It's really about the career exploration," Shuey said. "The whole purpose is to create opportunity and choice."