Bladen County Schools to start teaching remedial college classes in high schools

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Students needing college remediation will soon be able to get it while in high school.

Currently, most North Carolina students who graduate high school but are not prepared for college-level courses — as measured, for example, by entrance exams or ACT scores — take what community colleges call “developmental” courses. Offerings in this category include developmental reading and writing and developmental math.

Bladen County Schools Assistant Superintendent Tanya Head explained to the Board of Education recently the problem with the situation.

“Let’s say we have a student, Jay, whose ACT is less than college entrance criteria and his GPA is less than a college would require … Jay is like one in three students nationally who is not ready for college, and if he were to enroll at BCC today, he would be placed in developmental reading or math class,” she said. “This would cost him and his family money, as he would have to spend additional time there.”

In an attempt to right the situation, in 2015, N.C. legislators included in a ratified HB 1030 a provision for developmental math, reading, and writing classes to be offered at the high school level, essentially putting the responsibility for college-readiness back in the lap of secondary educators. A model program was launched in seven LEAs with the 2016/2017 academic year, and the program was expanded to another 23 LEAs for the 2017-18 year, but the fully implemented program becomes mandatory at all high schools statewide in August 2018.

Under the program, ACT scores, student grade point average, or other measures currently used by community colleges to determine entrance will be utilized to ascertain college readiness. High school juniors who do not meet readiness indicators will be required to take remedial courses taught by high school personnel, who, in turn, are trained by the State Board of Community Colleges. The latter oversees the remedial courses and approves any curriculum used to teach them.

“We’ve been meeting … with BCC folks for 10 months, knowing this would be coming down the pipeline,” Head remarked. “We’ve been looking at developing a course that would blend current English IV with a developmental English course, and that would be a new course for North Carolina.”

In the second year of the rollout, LEAs and legislators are taking stock, and Head shared with the board some of the concerns.

“The only students waived are occupational, and that is the cause of some concern,” she explained. “Many LEAs felt like it was too late, and students didn’t take it seriously because it didn’t impact graduation, or they weren’t planning to go to community college. There are still some decisions to be made.”

The State School Board has requested legislators delay the mandatory start date.

“We’ll bring you another update as soon as we get something from the Joint Legislative Committee,” said Head.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

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Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal