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New English Course Could Alleviate Remediation

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In 2017, Delaware’s Department of Education revealed that more than 40 percent of high schoolers weren’t graduating with the skills needed to do college-level coursework—including 24 percent who weren’t ready for college-level English.  The fallout? Thousands of students who wind up in remedial courses, which cost money and don’t usually provide credits toward college graduation.

 

A new high school course, the Foundations of College English, aims to combat this trend. Created through funding from Strada Education Network, and in partnership with the Department of Education and local colleges, the elective course itself was designed by Delaware Technical Community College.

 

It allows high school juniors and seniors to better prepare for college-level English courses. If they pass the class, students are guaranteed entry into credit-bearing English language arts coursework at Goldey Beacom College, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical, University of Delaware, Wesley College, and Wilmington University.

 

Remedial courses often add student debt and don’t count toward a degree.

 

Innovative, targeted interventions like Foundations of College English deliver the kind of  support students need as they explore the full spectrum of postsecondary options (certifications, two-year and four-year degrees, apprenticeships, etc.), graduate ready for college-level coursework, and continue through college to gain the credentials needed to achieve their goals.

Digging Deeper: The Dangers of Falling Behind Before Kindergarten

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Another year, another urgent message to be found in state-level data about kindergarten readiness. This year marks the second annual release of the Delaware Early Learning Survey (DE-ELS), which measures how well prepared preschoolers are for kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers observe and record their students to determine what they know and can do in areas such as math, language, literacy, and social and emotional development, to a name a few.

 

Much like last year, the 2017 DE-ELS shows that we still have a ton of work to do to ensure preschoolers are ready for the next level. We know that much of a child’s brain develops before they reach kindergarten, making preschool years the most essential time to build a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional intellect. But we don’t always think about how this critical time sets the stage for a child’s academic career and life success. Which is why this data paints a scary picture:

 

Between one-third and half of Delaware preschoolers are not prepared for kindergarten.

 

Most alarmingly, more than half of preschoolers aren’t ready for kindergarten-level math and just about half struggle with cognitive and social and emotional learning.

 

 

A student that struggles in early school years is not likely to be on a positive track later in their academic career. DE-ELS results offer a worrisome preview of what may be in store for students as they move into elementary, middle, and high school.

 

Delaware students’ academic performance data are an indicator of why we need strong investments in early learning.

 

Only half of students in third grade across Delaware are reading and doing math on grade level. As grade levels progress, we see less middle schoolers succeeding in math by eighth grade. Less than 30 percent of our high schoolers are ready for college level math, and only half are reading and writing on grade level in eighth grade.

 

We see the trend continuing as students graduate from high school. More than 40 percent of students graduating in the class of 2015 weren’t ready for college-level English or math, and were required to take remedial courses.

 

A successful academic career starts with robust, high-quality early learning programs.

 

Our earliest learners are being underserved, and it’s showing throughout their academic careers. What can we do about it?

 

  • Join a Delaware Readiness Team. Families, early childhood providers, educators, and community leaders can make a difference and help children from birth to third grade build focused action plans.
  • Advocate for expanding pre-k for four-year-olds. We know that investments in quality early learning benefit children and society. By ensuring at all children have fair access to pre-K programs, we all can reap those benefits.
  • Increase quality across all early learning programs. Support high-quality early childhood programs by raising standards, increasing Stars quality levels, and requiring that programs receiving childcare subsidy reach a minimum level of quality.

 

To see last year’s survey, check out this brief on 2016 DE-ELS Key Findings.

What We’re Reading: Does SEL Work for Students of Color?

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What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.

 

What I’m Reading:  Is Social and Emotional Learning Really Going to Work for Students of Color? (Dena Simmons, EdWeek)

I’ve read a lot about social and emotional learning lately: SEL research, SEL policy, SEL best practices, SEL webinars—you name it. Much of what I come across re-hashes some version of familiar talking points—what students need to know to be socially and emotionally competent, best practices when it comes to setting standards, or engaging districts in implementing SEL programs.

But here, educator and researcher Dena Simmons takes us back to a fundamental question about SEL. Is it going to work for students of color? In all the work we do to advance the education system for “all students,” how often do we stop and ask ourselves if our solutions are going to work for those most in need? This article challenged me to reconsider basic questions about not only SEL, but in all our collective work in education.

Most poignantly, however, Simmons makes me ask: How can we make sure SEL isn’t further perpetuating educational inequities for students of color?

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