Groundbreaking Data Analyses on College Readiness Released

July 29th, 2013

Category: News

Groundbreaking data analyses on Delaware students’ college readiness have been recently released in a presentation to the public. The report “Delaware College-Going Diagnostic: An Analysis of The First State Students’ College Readiness” featured data that has never before been available and analyzed so comprehensively. Using six years of data, the report examines students’ progression through high school, how well they stay on track for graduation, and whether they enroll and persist in postsecondary education. The report was produced through a partnership with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) with the Strategic Data Project (SDP), a program of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, which aligns with Delaware’s commitment to a data-driven approach to student achievement and developing associated education policies and practices. Governor Jack Markell, echoed this data-driven approach, stating at the presentation that “Our strategies to improve educational opportunities can only succeed if we fully understand the obstacles that prevent students from reaching their potential.”

The diagnostic found some recent progress, including a steady increase over the past four years in the number of Delaware high school freshman who remain on track for graduation. In 2008, 19% of ninth-graders finished the year behind, as compared to 12% in 2012. During that time and in conjunction with their Race to the Top plans, several Delaware school districts have implemented “Ninth Grade Academies,” summer preview programs, and other initiatives that provide more individualized attention to freshmen and help with the transition from middle school to high school. However, there are also numerous data which demonstrate the state’s challenges in truly preparing students for life after high school. Statewide, only 30 percent of Delaware’s ninth graders remain in college by their second year, with lower percentages for students from low-income families, Hispanics, and African Americans.

These data are already impacting Delaware practices. The state is using it to develop a college readiness plan to identify and investigate best practices, as well as develop ways to address challenges. In response to a substantial number of Delaware students who were identified as college ready on the state assessment (proficient on the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System or DCAS), yet did not attend higher education, the DDOE developed the “Summer Nudge” program. Starting this summer, the state is actively reaching out to these recent graduates with the intent of providing support and resources to facilitate their transition to college.

In addition, prior to the public presentation, school district officials met and reviewed the data to spark conversations and share best practices. Districts worked closely with Atnre Alleyne, the Delaware SDP Fellow. Alleyne works with the DDOE on several data analysis projects, including this college going diagnostic and teacher retention rates. In a recent article, Ryan Fuller, Race to the Top supervisor at the Caesar Rodney School District spoke about the SDP project and working with Atnre, describing the work as vital: “I had a specific question that I wanted help answering…It validated what we assumed.” Fuller continued, “[SDP fellows] have the knowledge to pull the data and process it in a way that we don’t have the capacity to do. Sometimes you really need to have a very knowledgeable person to run the metrics. I’m happy that the state of Delaware partnered with SDP to make data available to schools in order to inform practice.”

For more information and to review the report presentation, click here.

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Brittany Mason



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