Archive for the ‘Delaware Schools’ Category

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.

10 Things We Heard from Gov. Carney’s State of the State Address

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As Gov. John C. Carney delivered his (technically first-ever) State of the State address last week, the Rodel team listened intently for any mentions of public education.


Here’s what we heard:


  • Not surprisingly, Gov. Carney led off with the economy. He mentioned some positive steps in tackling the state’s mountainous budgetary issues, including the newly formed Prosperity Partnership, and others.


Naturally his first mention of education arrived tethered to the economy. The governor touted workforce development—and particularly the work of Delaware Pathways—as a major key to improving outcomes on the business ledger and in citizens’ quality of life.


“Investing in the workforce will pay dividends for years to come,” he said, pointing to increased investments in institutes of high education like Delaware Technical Community College, and nonprofits like Zip Code Wilmington.



And he spoke about the still-to-be-finalized plans surrounding the Christina School District—which the governor referred to as “the most difficult thing we will do during this administration, and the most important”—including capital upgrades, early learning centers and parent supports, raised teacher salaries, and smaller class sizes.


  • Speaking of early learning, Carney spoke to the need for deeper investments there, including additional funding to continue to grow and expand the Delaware STARs system in the FY19 budget.

  • The governor touted the success of math coaches in various schools across the state (especially since, as he pointed out, math skills are important for the future workforce), saying he’ll look to increase their numbers in the years to come.


  • And he circled back to Opportunity Grants, which helped provide a range of services to schools statewide, saying he’ll propose to triple the number of schools receiving that financial boost.


  • Carney seemed to emphasize social and emotional learning, saying, “We’ve put a greater emphasis on coordination among state agencies tasked with serving our most vulnerable citizens.” He specifically mentioned implementing a set of recommendations from a Centers for Disease Control report, which aims to reduce youth violence in Wilmington. A good first start for Delaware, he said, will be helping various agencies better share data, and target resources where they’re needed most.

  • On teachers, Carney called them the most important job we have, and said he plans to hire 200 new teachers to match student enrollment growth (which is required by state code). He also mentioned working alongside Rep. David Bentz, Sen. Bryan Townsend, and the DSEA, to create a student loan forgiveness program for educators that will help the state retain educators in our highest need schools and in the highest demand subject areas.


  • He thanked his wife Tracey for stewarding grant funding from the Casey Family Foundation, which, through local hospitals, Delaware Division of Family Services, the Division of Public Health, the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and the Office of Child Advocate, will launch Delaware Healthy Outcomes with Parent Engagement, or DE HOPE, designed to help substance exposed infants.


  • The new statewide library card campaign, which aims to deliver social services to more communities, got a brief shout-out.



As we anticipate a first-draft budget next week, Gov. Carney’s punchiest line of the day—“the state of the state is strong, and getting stronger”—will be put to the test. Stay tuned.

Digging Deeper: Are Students Finding Value in College and Career Supports?

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We’ve heard a lot in the news about expanding career training opportunities and rising participation rates in rigorous Advanced Placement courses. However, much of these celebrations (and sometimes lamentations) are often made by those people providing or supporting the service. Rarely, however, do advocates hear directly from students themselves about the supports they are receiving.

Rodel and our partners wanted to change that. When we began planning for the Supporting Postsecondary Success in Delaware: A Landscape Analysis of Opportunities we knew that reaching students would be critical.

This analysis reviews the characteristics, assets, and barriers of Delaware’s college and career preparation services. The non-scientific survey results include responses from 235 public school students in grades seven through 12. Student focus groups were also conducted, however results are not shown here. Although the student survey is not representative of the entire Delaware student population, results revealed that students surveyed might have different perceptions about existing college and career success supports and services than some might expect.

Students point to parents and family as the most helpful in preparing them for their future.

With a counselor-to-student ratio of 464 students to every one counselor, it should come as no surprise that Delaware students must seek others for post-high school advice. Students overwhelmingly rely on their family (87 percent) and teachers (64 percent) for help on their postsecondary future.


Students feel under-supported in planning for college and career after high school.

  • On career advising: When asked if anyone had helped them to find a job related to their career interests, 52 percent said no, or that what help they did receive was not helpful.
  • On choosing a college: More than one-third indicated receiving little help or unhelpful advising when deciding what college to attend based on their career interests.
  • On finding the right fit: Forty-four percent said that they received no help or unhelpful guidance on the difference between admission requirements for community colleges and four-year colleges.
  • On college affordability: While 82 percent said they received helpful advice on how much it will cost to attend college, 42 percent and 37 percent said they did not receive helpful advice on how to apply for financial aid or scholarships, respectively.

Despite available supports, students aren’t accessing programs and services that can help them with postsecondary planning.

  • On college and career planning: While nearly 80 percent of students developed a Student Success Plan (SSP) using Career Cruising, only 40 percent found it somewhat or very helpful in planning for their future. Career Cruising is an online platform that students can use to explore careers and develop a SSP. Students are required to create an SSP in eighth and update it throughout high school.
  • On existing supports: Eighty-one percent did not use or did not find it helpful to use SPARC (a web-based career exploration platform) to learn about careers. Sixty-nine percent have not used the State Scholarship Compendium.
  • On services and programs: More than 40 percent have not participated in or found unhelpful a program in school that helped inform them about college or career options. Nearly half indicated the same about out-of-school programs.

The current college and career support landscape leaves many students wanting more.

Many students are looking for more support on finding scholarships and internships, not surprisingly. Despite existing resources for students to use to find scholarships and funding (e.g. Delaware Scholarship Compendium or $tand By Me), students are not accessing these supports.

The landscape analysis also shares the perceptions of advocates, educators, and other stakeholders. Overall, recommendations from the study called for better collaboration among providers, business community, and schools; stronger college and career preparation for under resourced students; more attention on student mental health and social and emotional supports; and a re-evaluation of what high quality college and career counseling looks like.

The good news is that while students may not realize how many programs and services are available for their success, they still have high hopes for their futures. Many intend on getting a two-year, four-year, or graduate degree after high school. Nearly 70 percent have received helpful guidance on job search techniques (such as resume writing and interview skills). And more than 60 percent have a been advised on the type of SAT scores needed to get into the colleges they want. Finally, 70 percent of students have visited a college campus.

Students are getting exposure to college and career supports. But, if we want to make sure students have everything they need for success, strong and decisive action must be taken to improve our current system of support.

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