College Success Report
In March 2017, Delaware released its 2017 College Success Report. Findings from the College Board's State Integrated Summary data from 2012 through 2015 helped to inform this report.
Students entering college should — at minimum — be prepared to take a college algebra course, yet 36 percent of students entering Delaware colleges are not ready for college-level math. These students are required to take remedial courses that reteach concepts taught in middle and high school math classes.
A 2008 report from WestEd indicates a rigorous math course sequence — Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 — best prepares students for college-level courses. Yet, most Delaware students complete this sequence by the end of 11th grade, and still 36 percent require remediation in math.
All Delaware students are required to complete four years of math; however, students complete these four years with varying degrees of preparation for college courses. For a second year in a row, data suggests that students entering Algebra 2 or Statistics in 12th grade are less likely to show math proficiency, in comparison to their peers enrolled in Pre-Calculus or Calculus.
Students are more likely to transition to advanced courses in 12th grade based on SAT performance rather than grades. This raises questions about the reliability of grades as a measure of readiness and the need to identify other ways to measure students' readiness to transition to advanced courses.
Questions for Educators and Policymakers
Course Quality and Rigor:
- Are these courses delivering the full-grade level standards?
- Are these courses addressing gaps in student mastery and proficiency at each grade level?
- How do we measure and address gaps in competency prior to graduation?
- What happens for students entering 12th grade math courses after several years of failing to meet proficiency in math standards
Measuring Student Readiness:
- Are grades a strong indicator of student performance?
- What message does a student receiving a B or higher in a course send regarding readiness for the next level?
- For students receiving a C or lower, what supports and interventions are available in 12th grade courses to ensure they achieve proficiency by graduation?
- Discuss with your student’s classroom teacher content gaps that need to be addressed. Ask what strategies or classes can help your student to improve in these areas to reach college readiness.
- Encourage students to take the highest-level courses possible. Students should seek to stretch themselves as soon as they are ready.
- Identify summer camps and after-school programs that teach STEM concepts and help students to link science and math concepts.
- Eliminate the language that reinforces a fear of math. Find ways to connect math to real-life scenarios to show its value to students.