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USA Fund Grant Could Ease Remediation Burden for Students

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Every August, college freshmen arrive on campus feeling nervous about finding their way in a sea of strangers. Add on the stress of financing a degree, and the first semester of college is no walk in the park. Imagine being told amidst this transition, that you are required to take a remedial course. The course costs money, and doesn’t count toward your degree. This is reality for about 42 percent of Delaware public high school graduates attending a Delaware public college or university, according to the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE). Discouraged and overwhelmed by the cost and additional coursework, students who require remediation are less likely to successfully complete a degree.

This week, Governor Markell announced a $250,000 grant from USA Funds that could help address this issue while students are still in high school. The grant will bring English and vocational teachers together with college faculty to develop a Foundations of College English course. Once the course is established, eleventh grade students who do not meet the PSAT or SAT benchmark for college readiness in ELA will be eligible to take the course, and upon completion become eligible to take college-level coursework in their senior year. Ultimately, the governor and DDOE are hopeful this program will increase students’ college readiness in ELA by the end of 11th grade and expand access to college-level coursework for high schoolers. A similar program, the Foundations of College Math course, was developed for math in 2014.

“Students who require remediation are delayed in earning industry credentials and a two or four-year degree that would prepare them for employment,” said Matt Burrows, superintendent of the Appoquinimink School District. Existing programs in Delaware high schools allow students to get a jumpstart on earning the credentials and education needed to be successful in a career. This includes over 5,000 participants in state-model programs of study launched last year through the Delaware Pathways initiative. For that reason, the Foundations of College English course will begin as a pilot in select high schools for students enrolled in the Allied Health pathway program. This pilot will serve as a model for statewide expansion.

At the announcement, USA Funds president Bill Hansen talked about the importance of building on the great work already underway to improve student success across the country. Delaware is continuing to develop ways to prepare our students for success after high school. Along with Delaware Pathways, the state has extended opportunities for all students to take the PSAT and SAT for free during the school day, expanded in-school supports for students in filling out college applications and the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and increased opportunities for students to gain college credit through AP and dual enrollment courses. The grant will help grow these successes and truly make Delaware a model for the nation.

 

Alyssa McGraw contributed to this blog.

The Path Forward on Pathways: What We Heard

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Readers of this blog might recall the Rodel Foundation and the United Way of Delaware recently co-hosted a community conversation about Delaware Pathways and its still-under-development strategic plan.

The event was a resounding success. From the Wilmington Public Library, community members and leaders from various nonprofit organizations weighed in on the present state of college and career readiness for Delaware students—and where they’d like to see it go in the future.

Here’s just a small sample of the feedback we heard:

  • Attendees emphasized the importance of keeping students and families as the focus of our work, and engaging current students and recent graduates in our feedback process.
  • They discussed the importance of aligning our K-12 system, our institutions of higher education, and our employers to help create meaningful academic and work experiences for our students.
  • We talked about how important it is to start career exploration early with students, as early as middle school, with activities like guest speakers, visits to workplaces, and internships.
  • Guests emphasized clear communications with parents and students about the benefits of Career and Technical Education (CTE), program availability, and opportunities available through these programs of study.
  • They also stressed the importance of quality implementation in order for this work to be successful.

One great way to spread the word about Delaware Pathways is with our new infographic that depicts the student experience throughout middle school and high school. Check it out below, or download the full pdf here.

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We also heard a lot of great questions about the draft strategic plan and implementation. As we move forward, we will work to:

  • More explicitly address the opportunities Delaware Pathways creates for all students, including students with disabilities and at-risk students, and the supports available throughout their experience.
  • Make recommendations for how community-based organizations and Delaware Pathways can more seamlessly work together to provide the most meaningful opportunities for students, and connect directly with educators and employers implementing programs of study.
  • Better define how we will measure success in the short- and long-term, and use those measures to continuously improve our implementation.
  • More clearly communicate the benefits of Delaware Pathways programs of study to parents and students, while making it clear how this work aligns with other state programs which aim to prepare students for college and career success.

Couldn’t join us last week? No problem. Read through the full strategic plan or provide additional feedback at www.delawarepathways.org. Share it with any friends or colleagues who might also be interested in weighing in. The Delaware Pathways team is keeping track of all of this feedback for consideration as we look to finalize our strategic plan this summer.

Get Involved with Delaware Pathways, Help Delaware Students

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Students from William Penn High School take part in the advanced manufacturing pathway at Delaware Tech.

 

As a student, the transition between high school and college or a career can be a tricky one to nail. And the right path is rarely the same for every student.

It’s part of the reason why Delaware Pathways exists—to help provide students with options and knowledge for life after high school.

The collaborative effort works to better connect K-12 public education, higher education, and state and regional employment needs. The end results are students who feel confident and prepared for the future, schools who have the resources and connections to help their students succeed, and local employers who have a talented pool of homegrown applicants to hire.

Last month, we talked about the recent progress of Delaware Pathways, including an event with more than 250 people in attendance, the release of a draft strategic plan, and the announcement of a $100,000 grant to continue to develop this work.

Now, it’s your turn to chime in.

Since that conference in February, the Pathways team has heard from hundreds of school, business, and community partners, and we’d love to add your name to the list. Public comment on the draft strategic plan will be open until mid-May, and there are several ways you can share your thoughts until then.

  • Attend a Delaware Pathways conversation co-hosted by Rodel and United Way of Delaware on April 26th from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Wilmington Public Library. This conversation will allow attendees to dig into the draft strategic plan, ask questions, and talk about opportunities for partnership as we move forward. While the conversation is geared toward nonprofit leaders, it is open for all to attend. You can find more information here. Please RSVP to jbucsak@rodelfoundationde.org.
  • Submit feedback: Read through the strategic plan and tell us what you think. We are interested in learning more about what you find most interesting or exciting, other ideas or suggestions you have as we move forward, and what questions you have about the priorities outlined in the plan.
  • Request a meeting: Over the last two months, representatives from the Pathways team have been meeting with groups across the state to discuss the strategic plan. If you or a group you work with is interested in learning more about Delaware Pathways, please provide the group name/audience and a point of contact and we will reach out to schedule a meeting.
  • Become an official partner: On page two of the strategic plan you’ll see the logos of some of the many organizations that support Delaware Pathways. To pledge your support please email Luke Rhine at Luke.Rhine@doe.k12.de.us.

Feedback will be taken into account and considered for the final strategic plan. Your help, continued partnership, and collaboration are essential to making this work a success—for our state, and for our students.

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