Far too many Delaware public school graduates continue to enter college unprepared for the “level of rigor necessary” for success, according to a state report released Wednesday.
The 2017 College Success Report shows that 41 percent of graduates require remedial classes to “develop math, reading comprehension or writing skills before they can take college courses for credit.” The report does not include students who graduated from Delaware’s private high schools or public school graduates who attended college outside of Delaware.
Students who take remedial courses don’t get college credits for them, but those courses increase the cost of a college education, the Department of Education report said.
College students who need to take remedial courses graduate at lower rates than those who do not. That means Delaware schools, students and parents need to do more during the K-12 years to prepare for scholastic success after education, officials said.
“While some districts and schools are seeing progress, we need all students to be prepared to succeed in college when they leave high school,” said Shana Payne, director of the Delaware Office of Higher Education, in a written statement. “This report is part of a larger conversation focused on what stands in the way of students entering college ready for credit-bearing courses.”
The report also made four key recommendations to reduce remediation — suggestions that will prove difficult to achieve since barely more than half of 11th graders are proficient in English and only three in 10 are proficient in mathematics, according to the latest state statistics.
The wish list:
All students should graduate high school ready for college-level math courses.
All students should graduate high school ready for college-level English courses.
Provide targeted interventions prior to 11th grade for students not meeting college-ready benchmarks.
Design an accessible and equitable K-12 system that ensures all students can succeed in college-level courses upon graduation.
In 2015, about 5,000 Delaware graduates (61 percent) enrolled in college, a 3 percent increase over the previous year, the report said.
Of those students, about 3,500 (70 percent) attended a Delaware college such as the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wilmington University and Delaware Technical Community College.
Forty-one percent of those students, about 1,400 in all, needed to take remedial courses. That rate is the same as last year, but lower than the 44 percent for students who graduated in 2012, the report said.
The department highlighted ways some of Delaware’s 19 school districts are trying to remedy the situation, noting that Milford School District saw a 45 percent increase in Advanced Placement test takers last year, and a 39 percent rise in those who scored top scores of 3 or 4 on the tests.
The report also offered tips to parents:
Discuss with teachers “content gaps that need to be addressed,” and what strategies or classes can help improve a student’s readiness.
Encourage students to take the highest-level courses possible and “seek to stretch themselves,” when ready.
Identify summer camps and after-school programs that stress science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM).
Eliminate the language that reinforces a fear of math. Find ways to connect math to real-life scenarios to show the subject’s value to students.