Citing evidence that the opportunity to take a college-level class in high school helps students succeed in higher education, Governor Markell today outlined his proposal to ensure every senior with college potential has that chance before they graduate.
Markell joined Secretary of Education Mark Murphy at Caesar Rodney High School to announce details of a scholarship fund that makes college courses accessible to all high school seniors who have demonstrated college readiness, no matter their financial circumstances. Representatives from the state's colleges and universities attended the event to show their support.
"Cost shouldn't be an obstacle for our students who are stepping up and challenging themselves to prepare for a better future and we're going to make sure it's not," said Markell to a group of students gathered in the school library.
"We have two main purposes in establishing this program. First, experiencing college-level work while still in high school, whether it's on a campus or within these walls, will help you transition to meeting the more rigorous academic expectations of higher education classes. Second, we can help you afford not only the expenses of earning college credit before you leave here, but also the high cost of college overall."
According to the U.S. Department of Education, students who complete college credit while in high school require less remediation, have higher Grade Point Averages, and earn more credits in college. Starting next school year, the state Department of Education will provide funding for high school students from low-income backgrounds to take courses through one of Delaware's colleges or universities at no cost.
"The research is clear that students taking college courses in high school graduate college at a higher rate than their peers," said Secretary Murphy. "Through this program, and with the support of our institutions of higher education, we can build on the commitment that our teachers and administrators are making to raise the bar for our students, recognizing that they deserve the chance to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in college and career."
The Department will work with districts to identify college-ready students who would benefit from taking a dual enrollment course through one of our state's higher education institutions. Dual enrollment courses will enable students to receive credit both on their high school transcript and college credit. By focusing on general education courses such as math, English, history, and science, students will receive college credit that is highly transferrable. Students can then enroll in college having accumulated credits without any financial burden, thus making college more affordable and increasing the likelihood they will graduate on time.
The state will reimburse districts to offer dual enrollment courses in their schools or support individual students taking a class at an institute of higher education. Funding will be prioritized for students from families of low economic status. The Governor's proposed budget includes $300,000 to ensure this opportunity is available to every college-ready student who may not be able to afford the cost.
"We're determined to ensure our students can get all of the experiences that will help them graduate and achieve their potential moving forward," said Caesar Rodney Principal Elvina Knight. "The chance to complete college-level coursework could benefit many of our students with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities, but the cost of even one college class can be a burden. We appreciate the Governor stepping up to make this important opportunity available to all of our young people."
The scholarship program builds on recent progress Delaware has made to better prepare more students for college. Across the state, more than 2,500 of last year's graduates took an Advanced Placement exam during high school, more than twice the number of students who took an AP test a decade ago. In addition, the state has partnered with the College Board to send all college-ready seniors application and financial aid resources, including application fee waivers to eligible students. Students then receive help in school filling out their applications and financial aid forms.