by Terry Rogers
On Tuesday, February 13, Governor John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting visited Milford High School to recognize the school’s new Foundations of English College course developed through funding from Strada Education Network. The program is also a partnership between the school, the Delaware Department of Education and Delaware institutes of higher learning.
“In Milford, we focus on students first and seek unique opportunities for them to gain skills as necessary for post-secondary education and careers,” Superintendent Kevin Dickerson said. “Engaging in this partnership will strengthen student preparation and open up endless opportunities for our students to pursue and accomplish their goals.”
Statistics indicate that 41 percent of Delaware public high school graduates who enter a college or university must take remedial education courses in math or English. About 24 percent require remedial courses in English. Remedial courses are often non-credit but cost as much as a credit course and do not count toward the student’s degree.
“As I think of the challenges I face as your governor, chief among them is to make sure that Delaware’s economy is strong,” Governor Carney said. “That there are families with people that have good paying jobs that provide a good income for the family, so they can support their loved ones. One of the major objectives we’ve had in the Department of Education and in schools across Delaware is to make sure every child graduates from high school, either ready to go onto college or into the workforce in a meaningful way. That means every child. College is increasingly required to be competitive in the world we live in today. Jobs that pay higher wages require education beyond high school education. We have found that a lot of our students don’t have the math and English skills to go right into a college course. As a result, they have to take remedial courses. And guess what? That takes up time and it costs money.”
Currently, four districts are piloting the new program including Appoquinimink, Indian River, Milford and Smyrna. According to a U.S. Department of Education study, less than half of the students who take remedial courses actually complete them. Only 17 percent of remedial reading and 27 percent of remedial math students complete their bachelor’s degree.
“Earning a college degree is challenging enough without extra barriers created by remedial coursework,” Secretary Bunting said. “We must prepare our graduates for the rigor of college coursework. Offering the Foundations of College English course is another way to support our students to ensure they not only enter college but also leave with valuable degrees.”
According to Principal Shawn Snyder, the course will be taught by Erica Snyder and Seth Buford. It is different than other English classes in that it is focused on SAT preparedness and includes a significant amount of literature.
“Life needs poetry and art and music, so we find that important in an English course,” Mr. Snyder said. “But this class is also very technical. It asks students if they can write a paragraph, if they can write a five-paragraph essay that makes sense. Can they do the things that employers are going to ask of them. In my own case, I have asked teachers to write a press release and you would be surprised how many have no idea how to do that. That is something students will learn in this class. When I heard about this program, I wanted to know how we could be the first in line to do this because we are just obsessed with making sure 100 percent of our graduates are ready to do whatever they choose to do when they leave high school.”
The current program is offered to juniors at Milford High School and those students will be able to spend their senior year obtaining college credits to help them get a head start in college, Mr. Snyder said. The course was designed by Delaware Technical and Community College and includes a series of online modules designed to supplement the course or be added to other English language arts courses. Students who earn a 75 percent or better in the class are guaranteed to enter credit-bearing English courses at Goldey Beacom College, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical and Community College, University of Delaware, Wesley College and Wilmington University.
“I think you have seen that when Delawareans put their minds to solving a problem, or meeting a challenge, it can be done,” Secretary Bunting said. “Helen Keller once said “Alone we can do little, but together we can do so much.” I have learned through my year as Secretary of Education that quote has proven so true. When Delawareans put their mind to it, we can do great things.”
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