A CLOSER LOOK: Gov. Haslam Promotes SAILS Math Initiative

Feb 5, 2014

Children taking remedial math using the SAILS program initiated by Chattanooga State Community College.
Credit Chattanooga State

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Governor Haslam is including additional money in this year’s budget proposal for a program designed to help high school students struggling in math.

Education took up more than half of the Governor's State of the State speech Monday night. One of the first initiatives he mentioned was a program pioneered by Chattanooga State Community College called Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support, or SAILS.

“We know that nearly 70% of our students who graduate from high school need remedial math or English before they take college level courses. But if they have to take one of those courses, they’re chances of graduating are less than 10 percent.”

The SAILS initiative moves remedial math courses out of the state’s colleges and into high school classrooms. Students take remedial math online with a teacher present to provide assistance.

Chattanooga State’s Dr. Robert Denn says the course is designed to take advantage of the way today’s children prefer to learn.

“It’s very dynamic, it’s very interactive, it has great multimedia help on there with video clips and audio clips and high res graphics. Also, the students – it’s mastery based -- the students can learn at their own pace.”

Denn says about one student in four finishes the course in a single semester, and can then move on to tackle an actual college level course.

The SAILS system launched last year with about 600 students in 20 Tennessee high schools. If the governor’s request for $2.5 million additional dollars for the program is approved, it will expand to 12,000 students in nearly half of the state’s high schools.

By reducing the number of students forced to take remedial math, Governor Haslam says SAILS could save Tennessee students $3.5 million a year in college tuition.