Delaware students given the opportunity to ‘skip ahead’ using Smarter Balanced scores

     (Courtesy Gov. Markell's Office)

    (Courtesy Gov. Markell's Office)

    Delaware higher education institutions accepting national test scores as a measure of college readiness.

    Delaware Gov. Jack Markell announced Tuesday that, in lieu of separate placement tests, four local institutions will accept students’ Smarter Balanced Assessment scores allowing them to “skip” remedial classes and enroll directly in credit qualifying English and mathematics classes.

    The impact of the initiative on Delaware students will be substantial. According to Delaware’s State Report: College Enrollment, Remediation and Performance, in 2012 alone more than half of Delaware public school graduates had to take remedial classes at in-state colleges because their placement test results determined they were not ready for college level work.

    “The data unfortunately is very clear that too many students are stuck in a cycle of remediation”, said Gov. Markell. “They pay for those classes, they spend time doing the work but they don’t earn any college credits for these remedial classes. And as a result they don’t make any progress toward graduation.”

    The criteria for being admitted to the participating schools; University of Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College, Delaware State University and Wilmington University will not be changing and qualifications for admitted students to leverage Smarter Balanced test results will vary by institution. It’s also not clear how the policies will apply to students who may be attending these schools from out of state.

    Delaware is one of the 19 members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which created the assessments. When asked if he was hopeful that other states may implement a similar program or if it may be reciprocal across states, Gov. Markell responded, “Just as we learn from other states, other states can learn from us, that’s part of all the sharing that we do. This is Delaware specific. I would encourage the Penn States of the world and others to take a look.”

    The program at the Delaware schools goes into effect immediately, meaning that 11th grade students who took the test for the first time in 2015 will be able to leverage those results in their freshman year of 2016.

    Diane Bansbach, Math Department Chair at Wilmington University spoke passionately about the announcement, “Really the bottom line is we are here for the students. And we want to see them be successful go out into careers and we believe that this is going to be a way to enable them to fulfill their dreams.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.