Of the four key recommendations to eliminate the need for remedial classes, three directly affect higher education literacy in the state. Collectively these recommendations call for more intervention prior to the 12th grade in order to prepare students for the work they will do in college. If students are continually playing catch-up or simply achieving the minimum in each of their classes, they will remain in the 25% of Delaware students entering college under-prepared for literacy demands or they may be part of the larger 55% that fall below the SAT benchmarks for college readiness. Students who are already dubious about their ability to succeed in college and who fall into these statistics are repeatedly discouraged. Furthermore, remedial college classes often earn no college credit, increasing college costs for populations that often struggle affording higher education in the first place.
Educators need to look earlier than 11th grade PSATS and SATS in order to get students placed into more rigorous senior year classes that provide a bridge to the sort of writing and reading they will do in college.
Advanced placement or dual enrollment classes produce students who do not have remediation needs. Knowing this, a recommendation of this report is to simply remove these varying levels of classes (general, college prep and advanced placement). But making the 12th grade classes uniformly rigorous will not fix the problem of students who enter 12th grade unprepared. The general English courses and so-called “college prep” are the classes that feed the most Delaware students into remedial college classes.
The pragmatic but complicated recommendations of this report are to “strengthen integration of literacy and writing skills across all content areas”; make secondary English courses more uniformly rigorous to foster the literacy skills needed to prepare students for the real work they will do in college; and essentially create partnerships and get educators from all levels talking to one another about content and rigor in the classroom.