Governor Announces USA Funds Grant to Reduce Remedial Education Need

USA Funds backs state initiative to support students in writing and reading

Wilmington, DE – With support of nearly $250,000 from the nonprofit USA Funds, Delaware has launched an innovative effort to ensure more high schoolers graduate ready for college-level English Language Arts (ELA) coursework and not in need of remedial classes that cost money without earning them credits toward a degree. The funding, announced today by Governor Markell and USA Funds President and CEO Bill Hansen at Delaware Tech, will help the state develop and implement an ELA remediation course to:

• Increase the number of students who demonstrate college-readiness in ELA by the end of 11th grade, and
• Increase the number of students accessing college-level coursework while in high school.

The program will begin as a pilot in selected high schools for students enrolled in Allied Health – a program that is part of the state’s Pathways to Prosperity initiative and that prepares students to pursue a career in the health care industry. Integrating the effort with Allied Health reflects feedback from health care employers who have told the state about their need for workers who can write and understand complex written materials. The pilot will serve as a model for statewide expansion.

“We have too many students that have worked hard to meet the requirements of college entry and yet when their coursework begins, they find themselves in need of remediation and additional supports,” said Markell. “I’m thrilled that as a result of our partnership with USA Funds, we can now take another step toward ensuring that our students enter our colleges prepared to earn credits and make progress toward a degree on day one.”

While the state has made significant progress in supporting college and career readiness, with record high graduation rates, recognition as one of the best states in supporting college access, and huge increases in the number of students taking and passing dual-enrollment and AP college-level course while in high school, more can be done to reduce the need for remedial education. A quarter of Delaware students who enroll in an in-state higher education institution require remediation in English, while a total of 42 percent require some kind of remediation, reflecting a national trend of students needing to relearn what they should have mastered in high school.

“USA Funds is delighted to extend our partnership with Governor Markell and the State of Delaware to promote innovative practices that enhance student success, reduce the time to complete college, and make higher education more affordable,” said Hansen. “We look forward to the results of this pilot, which could serve as a model for Delaware and for other states that are working to build a surer path for their citizens through education to rewarding careers.”

This partnership with USA Funds will bring together English teachers, career and technical education teachers, and post-secondary faculty to develop instructional resources for students who have not met PSAT and SAT proficiency benchmarks for English Language Arts (ELA). Students will be more easily identified as a result of the state’s program allowing all students to take the PSAT and SAT for free during the school day. They will enter remediation in 11th grade as participants in a Foundations of College English course and, upon successful completion, will be ready for post-secondary credit bearing courses in ELA.

“Delaware has a real opportunity to prepare students for college and continue driving on its commitment to ensure all students have access to post-secondary success, by working together with colleges and universities,” said Secretary Steven Godowsky, Delaware Department of Education. “We look forward to working with districts and charters, our higher education partners, and all of the many business and non-profit organizations throughout the state as we continue lowering remediation rates for our graduates.”

“Students who require remediation are delayed in earning industry credentials and a two or four-year degree that would allow them employment,” Matt Burrows, Superintendent of Appoquinimink School District said. “This work allows us to connect opportunities for continuing education with career pathways and technical training for students, ultimately putting students on a path to gainful employment. Through the support of USA Funds, we will gather academic teachers, career teachers, and post-secondary faculty to develop instructional resources for students who are not prepared for college level coursework in English Language Arts.”

Additionally, students will be eligible to take college-level courses including dual enrollment in their senior year, aligned to their career pathway. Overall, this project provides students with numerous opportunities to achieve and exceed the college-readiness benchmark while still in high school aligned to an in-demand career pathway.

“Delaware Tech is proud to partner on this latest initiative to make our high school students college-ready. We encourage students to take advantage of programs that provide a head-start on college,” Dr. Mark Brainard, President of Delaware Technical Community College said. “Research shows that students who enroll in early college experiences have higher rates of college enrollment, persistence and completion. Ultimately, these programs help our youth succeed in achieving their educational and career goals and give them hope for a better future.”

This initiative to reduce the number of Delaware student needing remediation in English Language Arts builds on a similar program in math started at select high schools in 2014. Students who successfully complete the Foundations of College Math course – created through a partnership with school districts, higher education institutions, and the Department of Education – are guaranteed to go directly into credit-bearing math courses in Delaware colleges – no remediation required.

USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that supports Completion With a Purpose, building a more purposeful path for America’s students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives. USA Funds pursues its nonprofit mission through philanthropic activities and partnerships, policy research, and programs and services that enhance preparation for, access to and success in higher education. Learn more at

Delaware Leads Nation in Graduation Rate Gains

Delaware made the greatest gains in high school graduation rates between 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Education announced Monday.

The First State, which saw its rate increase from 80 percent in 2013 to 87 percent in 2014, led five states cited by the report as having made the greatest gains. Also cited were Alabama, Oregon, West Virginia and Illinois.

Delaware school and district leaders have credited the state’s improvements in recent years to initiatives such as credit recovery programs, ninth grade academies and targeted interventions. Many of these efforts were initially funded through federal Race to the Top grants that went to the state as well as districts and charter schools. As a result of these investments, students receive additional supports before and during their first year of high school. In addition, schools are more likely to be able to identify students quickly if they are falling off track so they get the support they need before getting too far behind. Schools have targeted ninth graders because research shows that performance during that year is a major indicator in whether a student will ultimately graduate.

Supports have been coupled with improved data systems, which help educators better identify when and how students are falling off-track so they can more effectively target intervention. Teachers also have more time to communicate with their peers to identify and target needed supports thanks to their Professional Learning Communities, designated time during the school day when educators meet to plan and learn from each other about the most effective ways to serve their students.

“This recognition is the result of tireless work by educators and school leaders throughout the state working to meet the needs of every Delaware student,” Governor Jack Markell said. “Rising graduation rates, increased college attendance, and more students taking and passing college-level courses in high school all show that we are making great progress at a time when education is more important than ever. But we can and must continue to do better; we must sustain and improve upon the efforts that are producing these results.”

Acting Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said he is proud of Delaware’s educators and students, whose hard work has led to these gains.

“We must continue to invest in these and other initiatives that are working to better prepare our students for college and career,” he said. “If confirmed by the Senate, I will work to continue everything from the effective implementation of our rigorous Common Core academic standards to support for our struggling schools to the Pathways to Prosperity initiative, which gives students hands-on learning opportunities in growing career fields to make learning relevant and fun.

“All of these efforts are necessary to ensure we are meeting student needs and keeping every student on a path to graduation and success after school,” Godowsky said.

The preliminary data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education shows the majority of states – 36 – saw increases in overall graduation rates from 2013 to 2014. Six states saw decreases and eight had no change since 2013. The National Center for Education Statistics is expected to release final graduation rate data – including the nation’s newest graduation rate – in the coming months.

NOTE ABOUT THE DATA: The 2014 Delaware rate reported by the U.S. Department of Education (87 percent) differs from the rate the state reported earlier (84.4 percent), because Delaware includes students in some special schools/programs that are excluded from the calculation used for the federal reporting. The state 2014 calculations also represented a significant increase from 2013, when the state reported a graduation rate of 79.9 percent.​