Unlike so many other states, the cuts in funding for developmental education has not affected the mission of open access to students no matter what their ability. The state of Delaware makes going to college an important part of the high school experience. The State conducts and pays for students to take both the PSAT and the SAT during the school day, and it also promotes College Application Month for students in high schools. This program helps students apply to college during the school day. Moreover, this year Delaware is implementing a pilot course in math in three area high schools for students to bypass remediation courses in college. If students pass the class, they bypass any remedial course that they might have had to take upon entering a college or university in Delaware. Recent statistics show that more than half of Delaware high school students who entered in-state colleges enrolled in non-credit bearing remediation classes. Unlike more competency-based tests that allow students to move into certain levels of classes, offering a full course in the foundational knowledge needed for college classes is promising.
If the class is successful, the initiative may spread to college writing and literacy. In addition to dual enrollment classes that some Delaware high schools offer, these classes would ensure that the student is ready for the type of college level writing and reading that they will be asked to do. Clearly, this investment in secondary education will make students more college-ready, but the national trend to cut federal funding for remedial classes in the first year’s of college has not yet hit Delaware.
Given that high remediation rates often mean low graduation rates, the effort to address senior high school classes is ideal, but the struggle for schools in lower income areas, or under-performing schools won’t ameliorate all the need for intervention or developmental courses at the college level. To that end, Delaware State University has launched the “Early College High School” public charter school that allows students to earn college credit while in high school with 132 students enrolled for this inaugural year. In a similar push to make college attractive and accessible, the University of Delaware is expanding its UD Scholars program, a two-week pre-college experience for first-generation and low-income students.