Delaware’s New Writing Standards Seek to Improve Lagging Skills in K-12 Students
Implemented this year, the new standards require more nonfiction education and writing, as well as history, social sciences and more.
(page 4 of 4)
“We will be much less dependent on textbooks,” says Ali-Turner. For instance, the 11th grade study of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a story of racism and rape during the Great Depression, might also require students to read court documents and magazine articles or watch documentaries about court proceedings. The social studies teacher might also continue with the same theme and require additional writing assignments from the students.
“This is a paradigm shift for everyone,” says Ali-Turner. “We’re starting to see all content teachers as reading teachers.”
Beyond exposing students to more nonfiction text and requiring that they use higher-order thinking skills, school personnel must also work more closely with area college educators to better align English language course experiences for the students.
Rouser, the associate with the Delaware Department of Education, says more Delaware students are participating in dual enrollment classes as districts continue to enter into agreements with institutes of higher education so that high school students can pursue college coursework on their own.
Sell has been teaching his students college-level English classes using curriculum from Delaware State University. Earlier this year, Sussex Tech announced a more extensive partnership with Widener University to offer junior and senior students the chance to enroll in and complete college courses.
Wilmington University has also partnered with high school leaders. “We are very eager to ensure that students do not experience a large disconnect from high school to college,” says Kate Cottle, an assistant professor and chair of English and Literature at Wilmington University. “To achieve this goal, we are working with both K-12 and post-secondary educators statewide to make sure that our math and English classes are mapped along the common core state standards descriptors.”
Rouser says this type of partnership will enable high school and college educators to discuss the gaps that exist in student skill sets.
“Having students in college classes will help clarify, in that important senior year, what is expected of students in college,” says Rouser. “We have to work hard to bridge that gap between high school performance and expectations at the college level.”