MEMPHIS — A state program is helping high school seniors complete a remedial math course before they start college.
According to The Commercial Appeal, a program called Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support started several years ago in Chattanooga as a way to help seniors at Red Banks High prepare for their first college semester while also giving them credit for a high math class.
Gov. Bill Haslam suggested Chattanooga State Community College test it on a larger scale. Last year, the program, referred to as SAILS, grew to 600 students.
This year, with $1.1 million from the governor's online innovation budget, 6,000 students are enrolled in 114 high schools.
"It seems like a pretty simple solution. Instead of waiting for students to show up at a community college and then requiring them to take remedial math, why not go down to their senior year and eliminate the remediation for free," says Mike Krause, assistant executive director of academic affairs at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
Students take the "bridge math" through an online course developed at Chattanooga State. Class meets an hour a day, and students work at their own pace with their high school math teacher and one of 14 field coordinators stationed in schools to monitor the progress.
"I have spreadsheets so I can see who is working and who is not," said Melinda Woodward, a retired math teacher. "The teacher has the same access. I visit the three schools I am assigned to in Memphis each week. I help the kids with questions and see if the teacher needs anything."
State education leaders say SAILS could be a player in significantly boosting college graduation rates. According to national research, only about 25 percent of community college students assigned to remedial courses graduate in eight years
Since 2012, Tennessee has required all students needing remedial help to start college in a community college. On average, 70 percent of them need remedial math.
"Stay tuned for an expansion on the English side," said THEC executive director Rich Rhoda. "We're optimistic SAILS is going to be everything we think it can be. So far, so good."
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com