Archive for the ‘College and Career Readiness’ Category

Making Sense of the Federal Education Budget

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On March 23, Congress approved, and President Trump signed, a $1.3 trillion appropriations bill that will fund the federal government through September 30, 2018.


This funding bill wasn’t easy to come by—it took several short-term extensions to fund the government, as well as a two-year deal on the overall budget caps.


The Rodel team combed through the budget lines pertaining to education and considered what it might mean to Delaware.



In Early Care and Education:


Federal budget: A $2.4 billion increase to Child Development Block Grant (for a total of $5.2 billion)  


What it means for Delaware: This will mean about $6.4 million in flexible spending to Delaware. The Delaware Early Childhood Council will inform how it gets spent.


Federal budget: A $610 million (or seven percent) increase of to Head Start (for a total of $9.9 billion)


What it means for Delaware: Early childhood programs that help low-income families access daycare will get a boost.




In K-12 Wraparound Supports:


Federal budget: A $700 million increase for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (for a total of $1.1 billion)


What it means for Delaware: Additional funding will be available through Title IV block grants. The grants developed under ESSA provide states with a flexible way to spend federal dollars to help students receive a well-rounded education. Funding could be used to improve school climate and culture, promote effective use of technology, to support school counseling, mental health, and safety. In Delaware’s ESSA plan, the state aims to use Title IV Part A funds to offer technical assistance and training to districts and charters for academic enrichment and student support programs.


Federal budget: A $20 million increase for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (afterschool programs) (up to $1.2 billion)


What it means for Delaware: Delaware will be eligible for additional grant funding to support things like homework assistance, meals, and academic enrichment activities. Delaware has a number of these programs running across the state, providing before- and after-school activities, including remedial education, tutoring services, counseling, and programs for at-risk students.



In Higher Education: 


Federal budget: Sufficient funding to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $175 for a total of $6,095; $107 million (10-percent) funding increase for Federal Work-Study and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (for a total of $840 million)

What it means for Delaware: These increases will help make college more affordable for low-income students, helping to address inequities.


Federal budget: $60 million increase for TRIO, for a total of $1.01 billion and $10 million increase for GEAR UP college preparation programs for a total of $350 million

What it means for Delaware: Delaware will be eligible for additional competitive funding available for programming designed to support low-income, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress from middle school through postsecondary and career.


Federal budget: $350 million for a new discretionary relief fund for borrowers to receive public service loan forgiveness


What it means for Delaware: This temporary expansion of the relief fund program is intended to reach individuals who would have otherwise been eligible for the program (which allows eligible borrowers to earn loan forgiveness by working in public service and by making 120 qualifying payments) but were not enrolled in a qualifying repayment program.




In Workforce Development:


Federal budget: $75 million increase in career and technical education (CTE) state grants under the Carl Perkins Act


What it means for Delaware: This increase to support CTE programs will be allocated to states based on the federal-to-state formula.


Federal budget: $145 million for Apprenticeship Grants, a $50 million increase


What it means for Delaware: These dollars represent competitive funding that Delaware could apply for, which would help expand the types and availability of registered apprenticeship programs available for Delaware residents.


Federal budget: $2.8 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Grants to states, an $80 million increase


What it means for Delaware: Additional funding will be available through state formula grants for adult programs, youth programs, and dislocated worker programs. The in-school and out-of-school youth funds can be used to support youth with one or more barriers to employment to prepare for post-secondary education and employment opportunities, attain educational and/or skills training credentials, and secure employment.

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.

What’s the Lay of Delaware’s Postsecondary Prep Landscape?

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How well is Delaware really preparing students for life after graduation? We know there are many outstanding in-school and out-of-school programs and support services up and down the state, but what are our strongest assets? Our biggest opportunities to improve? Rodel is just one of several partners dedicated to finding answers to these questions, and analyzing what Delaware’s college and career support landscape looks like. In partnership with Jobs for the Future, an analysis and recommendations have been published entitled Supporting Postsecondary Success in Delaware: A Landscape Analysis of Student Opportunities.

The analysis confirmed that while Delaware is a burgeoning national leader in college and career readiness efforts, there is still work to be done to ensure that all students are getting the support they need for success. Recommendations can be found in full detail in the report. Recommendations are divided into four themes:

  • Rethink College and Career Advising: Professional school counselors are an essential piece of the puzzle, but a new approach that utilizes all educators in college and career planning, engages parents, and coordinates state, school, and community-based services is desired to address broad student needs.
  • Address Student Mental Health Needs: Counselors, educators, and community-based organizations address students’ mental health needs, but all providers could do better to understand the current services that are available and how to scale best practices.
  • Expand Access to Support Services and Equity of Distribution: Race, geography, citizenship, and English learner status can reportedly hamper access to high-quality services for students. Current programming does not adequately cover all postsecondary and career preparation topics (such as persistence/completion of postsecondary education and affordability), and student demand is not being met consistently or equitably.
  • Leverage Existing Resources: Cross-sector communities (e.g. counselors, schools, mental health, community-based, higher education, philanthropy, and business) provide critical support services, but there is a need to expand infrastructure, “braid” financial resources, and deliver services more strategically and effectively to ensure that all youth are prepared for college and career upon graduating from high school.


We refuse to allow this report to sit on the shelf without a plan for action. So, representatives from nearly 75 community-based organizations, schools districts, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and the private sector gathered to learn about the findings and recommendations of the analysis and began discussions on opportunities for action. Participants discussed the following priorities:

  • Develop a meaningful family engagement strategy to share new and existing opportunities, such as the SEED and Inspire scholarships or career pathways.
  • Utilize common language and understanding of social and emotional learning supports that can be used in schools, community-based organizations, and homes across the state.
  • Consider a compendium of college and career programming and supports available across the state, including the types of supports available and the age groups served.
  • Brainstorm a collaborative strategy for college and career readiness and success efforts that would more effectively point students to needed resources, share best practices across organizations, and work toward common goals and outcomes.
  • Recognize and capitalize on opportunities to leverage resources to expand collaboration and scale best practices.

Feedback will be used to inform planning and implementation moving forward.


Over the next eight years, Delaware will hire or replace 30 percent of its workforce. In order to prepare students for the future, we must provide them with the academic and technical skills, advising and supports, and leadership and work experiences that will prepare them to be our future leaders. We must continue to work together to provide students with both the college and career supports to prepare them in those endeavors.


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