Delaware’s Remediation Rates Released

September 26th, 2014

Category: News, Policy and Practice, Postsecondary Success

Earlier this week, the Delaware Department of Education released state, district, and school-level reports on the remediation rates of Delaware’s class of 2012 students who have attended higher education institutions in the state. This is the first time the state has remediation information available at a district and school level, and it provides a clearer look at the preparedness of Delaware high school graduates.

The data shows that overall, 53% of students enrolling in Delaware colleges need remediation. Of those students, the range of students who need remediation varies from 40% in the Appoquinimink School District to 85% in Woodbridge.
Remediation rates also differ greatly among demographic subgroups, as the reports show that 43% of white students need remediation, yet 70% of African American and Hispanic/Latino students need remediation. This information does not differ greatly from the achievement gaps we have seen on Delaware’s state assessment (DCAS), but does highlight the need to continue to focus on providing all students with equal opportunities for success.

For some students, needing remedial courses can cause significant barriers to degree completion. These courses do not provide credits toward a degree, and students must pay tuition to take them. In some cases, student financial aid cannot be used to cover these courses, potentially creating a barrier for students as they begin their college careers.

There are a number of current initiatives and programs which will help reduce remediation rates.

  1. The Common Core State Standards will establish the skills and knowledge that every student should learn in each grade level in order to be college-ready when they graduate from high school.
  2. This year, the state is piloting “Foundation of College Math” in three districts, which will prepare 12th grade students to take college-level math courses when they enroll in institutes of higher education.
  3. Schools are expanding their Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and dual-enrollment course offerings, giving students access to college-level courses while still in high school.

The report also highlights that remediation rates also vary greatly by institution of higher education, from 18% at the University of Delaware to 81% at Delaware State University. Some of these differences can be attributed to the selection criteria used by the university, and a difference in student population. In order to help reduce these remediation rates, Delaware’s colleges and universities are working with districts to provide dual-enrollment courses, and are working with incoming students in learning communities and other venues to help assure that students can enroll in credit-bearing courses when they arrive on campus for their freshman year, or as soon as possible.

However, despite the current work being done in Delaware, these reports highlight that Delaware students have higher remediation rates than many national estimates. Delaware must continue to consider bold and innovative programs, and best practices from other states in order to reduce the number of remediation courses. For example:

  • Washington is working with its institutions of higher education to use the Smarter Balanced 11th grade assessment as an indicator of college readiness in the placement process for postsecondary institutions in Washington. This will help assure expectations of K-12 schools and institutions of higher education remain aligned.
  • Colorado GEAR UP’s Early Remediation Pilot enrolled 1,300 8th, 9th, and 10th grade students in classes that mirror remedial math and English sequences taught on Colorado campuses.

As we work to prepare our students, we have a responsibility to make sure they are ready to enter college and the workforce when they graduate high school, despite their economic or ethnic background. Delaware can use examples from around the country to develop next steps, which will assure we are providing our students with the greatest opportunity to succeed as they move onto this next step in their educational careers.

Jenna Ahner



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