Grant to help fund efforts to prepare high school students for college

A $40,000 grant has been given to Northern Kentucky University from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. The grant was part of a senate bill titled Senate Bill 1 that Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed on March 26, 2009.

According to details within the bill, “college and career readiness included objectives such as developing a unified strategy to reduce college remediation rates of then recent high school graduates by at least 50 percent by 2014 from the rates in 2010.”

The bill also included that it aimed to “increase the college completion rates of students enrolled in one or more remedial classes by three percent annually from 2009 to 2014.”

“This grant will enable me to provide these services to teachers from over 15 different high schools who want to know how to prepare their students for college-level writing,” said Nancy Kersell, Director of NKU’s Early Assessment Program (EAP) in English.

“The [Early Assessment in] English program, thanks to funding from this grant, will be helping to bridge that gap between high school and college writing instruction.”

The program’s emphasis is to show high school students how to prepare for college-level writing. Students who take the EAP’s 90-minute writing test and essay question and achieve a combined score of 75 or better receive an exempt rating.

With the exempt rating, along with registering for classes at NKU, students can immediately register for ENG101 without taking a placement test. Otherwise, workshops are offered to the students to build their skills. This newly awarded grant will ideally help the EAP in English students to make a smooth transition from average grammatical skills in high school to exemplary college-level status.

“I think the grant is a good thing for students. Sometimes people need a little help in college courses, and this will benefit them,” senior business management major Leon Floyd said.

Although he did not take any remedial courses for English, Floyd certainly saw a major difference in college-level grammar and style when compared to that of the high school level.

According to the EAP’s website, one of the primary goals is to help students avoid investing time and money in college remediation classes that ultimately do not count toward a baccalaureate degree.
“I took remedial courses for English. They helped my skills, but it would have been cool if I could have initially started taking English classes that counted,” said senior business management major Donovan Ayers.

Kersell also said that according to the Kentucky Department of Education website, “Kentucky currently ranks 33rd out of 50 states based on student test scores [in all subject areas] in the junior year; this is a substantial improvement in the past decade, but many students still need remediation in writing when they enter college.”

This $40,000 grant will aid the EAP in the fields of testing students to see where they are gauged on college-level literacy and, wherever they scored, build their skills to perform at an adequate level in college.