By Ashley Ball, Classroom Chronicles
Nearly 70 percent of Tennessee students entering community college need remedial classes before they can take college-level courses.
From extra help to extra credits, Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS) is helping students across the state turn remediation into college credit. The math program is designed to help bridge the gap between high school math and college-level courses, tailored for students who scored a 19 or below on the math section of their ACT during their junior year. The program expanded from 600 students last year to 8,000 across the state during the 2013-14 school year. In his State of the State Gov. Haslam proposed increasing their funding, so the program could reach 4,000 more Tennessee seniors.
Already half way through the year, 2,409 SAILS students have finished all remedial requirements, saving more than 7,000 semesters or $3.9 million in tuition and books.
That is big money that’s giving seniors across the state a chance to catch up, and for some, get ahead.
Necoya Daniels and Janeva Meguiarare, both seniors at Antioch High School, completed the SAILS remediation program and are now using their class time to take dual-enrollment courses at Nashville State. While they said they never imagined themselves taking a college course during their senior year, especially in a subject where they needed extra support, they can’t imagine their future without this opportunity.
“I probably would have failed my first math class in college. I know I would not have been ready. Now I’m ready and I am ahead,” said Daniels.
Approximately 200 seniors at Antioch High School participate in a SAILS math course, making it the largest participating school in Metro Nashville. Elaine Meadows, one of several SAILS instructors, takes roll, redirects students, and signals the start of the period all in one swift motion. It is a procedure that runs like clockwork as students independently pick up where they left off.
The class doesn’t involve whole group instruction or small groups; the only sounds are the taps of the keyboard and the clicks of a mouse.
Meadows monitors from a separate computer, watching students progress through one of the five modules that address foundational math skills. Meadows, a 27-year veteran of Antioch High School and original skeptic of the program, says her view of the program has dramatically evolved as she watched students progress and succeed.
“When we started, I wasn’t convinced this would work. How is a computer program going to help kids who don’t understand math?” Meadows said.
“He couldn’t get past it. He would take the practice test again and again. While it was a struggle, when he finally completed the module, he cruised past everything else. He conquered his gap. His attitude toward math, his face when he walked in the door- everything changed after that,” Meadows said.
Because the program allows students to work independently through each module, she believes it empowers students to push themselves.
“They take a different kind of ownership over their learning when they are in the driver’s seat,” Meadows said.
Ashley Ball manages content for Classroom Chronicles. She is a journalist turned educator.