The state’s top education officials came to Long Island Friday, touring an innovative college and career prep program in Baldwin before joining a group of regional educators at Molloy College discussing how to improve college readiness.
New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Roger Tilles, who represents Long Island on the state Board of Regents, spent the morning visiting Baldwin High School, which has a program teaching students real-world skills in classrooms.
It’s one the officials said they would like to see expand to public schools across the state.
“They are doing great work in getting kids connected to a work environment,” Elia said.
Baldwin’s personalized learning academies, in place for about six years, focus on five areas: STEM and engineering, global business and entrepreneurship, new media, medical and health sciences and law and government. The program runs in grades 9-12 and it includes professional shadow days with practitioners in the field, internships, clubs and activities.
The program will expand next year to include an academy on educating future teachers, Superintendent Shari Camhi said.
Classrooms are set up to reflect a professional workplace setting and in some cases, former professionals are the teachers.
“This is the way to go — to teach kids through relevancy,” Tilles said.
On Friday, Elia toured an emergency medical class in which students practiced CPR on dummies. She also stopped in a virtual entrepreneurship class in which students have created a website and marketing plan for fashionable medical alert bracelets that they designed.
High school senior Marsha Smiekle, 17, is enrolled in the high school’s medical academy. She learned through an internship and shadowing professionals that she wanted to be a nurse.
“I wouldn’t replace this experience for anything and it set me up so nicely for my next four years in nursing school,” said Marsha, who plans to attend Northeastern University in Boston in the fall.
Later Friday, Elia and Tilles attended the college readiness forum at Molloy College organized by the Long Island Regional Advisory Council on Higher Education — which includes a partnership between pre-K to 12 educators and higher-education officials.
Representatives from more than 70 Long Island school districts and several local college and university officials attended the presentation at the college’s Rockville Centre campus.
The partnership shared results of a survey of Long Island colleges and universities, which found that among first-year college students, on average, 38.8 percent had enrolled in remedial math classes, 26.8 percent in remedial reading and 1.2 percent in remedial writing over the past five years.
Participation among college freshmen in some sort of remediation has dropped from 57.3 percent in 2012 to 46.8 percent last year, according to the survey.
The study also found that coordination between high schools and colleges is not widespread, and that a rigorous high school curriculum helps lead to success in college.
Next steps include sharing best practices, bringing together college and high school leadership and launching a pilot program for an islandwide math remediation effort, said Drew Bogner, Molloy president and co-chairman of the partnership.
“There’s many things we can do but let’s start first with the things that makes the most sense,” he said.