Release Date: March 1, 2013
Contact: Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Director of Communications Laura McDowell, 360-704-4310 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Feds look to Washington for congressional report on pre-college success
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Innovative pre-college programs in Washington have caught the eye of federal officials charged with writing a report to Congress. Representatives of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this week visited community and technical colleges to hear their success stories and challenges in preparing students for college-level work.
Pre-college courses (also referred to as remedial or developmental education) allow people to brush up on English and math skills so they can enroll in college-level courses and earn certificates and degrees. Students in these classes have either been out of school for several years and need a refresher on high school-level math or English, or they recently graduated from high school but are not up to college-level coursework.
Twenty-three percent of all four-year university graduates in Washington took at least one pre-college class, usually in math. At Washington community and technical colleges, pre-college students make up 10 percent of all state-supported enrollments, more than half of whom have been out of high school for at least three years.
The GAO officials this week visited:
- Everett Community College, where streamlined, self-paced math classes allow students to complete their studies faster. Free study sessions, facilitated by a trained tutor, boost the average participant’s grade by one letter. The college also offers math-placement testing at some high schools so students discover whether they’re prepared for college math and are encouraged to continue their studies.
- Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Kirkland, which offers programs that allow students to move through multiple levels of pre-college English and math courses simultaneously, saving months to years of schooling and associated tuition. The accelerated math program enjoys a 93 percent success rate.
- Lower Columbia College, Longview, where new pre-college English students study together in the same class, progress and earn credits at their own pace, and then move into the next level without having to go through a step-by-step sequence. The college also offers Integrated Transitional Studies (I-TRANS), which allows students to achieve more than one level of English or math in a single quarter.
- North Seattle Community College students move through pre-college classes quickly -- and check off some of their college prerequisites -- by taking classes that combine pre-college English with English 101 and pre-college math with science. Many of the pre-college math courses are designed to take two quarters instead of three. In bi-weekly “Reflection Fridays,” math and English faculty review students’ progress and identify ways to help them succeed.
- Tacoma Community College, where STEM students can take a specially designed pre-college math course that offers an introduction to pre-calculus rather than intermediate algebra. The college also offers “Statway,” a two-quarter class for liberal arts and social science majors that fulfills the college-level math requirement and focuses on statistics, considered to be most relevant for many career choices.
All of the colleges also offer “I-BEST,” a program pioneered in Washington State that gives Adult Basic Education students a jump start into their technical and professional education. I-BEST pairs two instructors in the classroom – one to teach professional and technical content and the other to teach basic skills in reading, math, writing or English language – so students can move through school and into jobs faster. As students progress through the program, they learn basic skills in real-world scenarios offered by the job-training part of the curriculum.
About the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges:
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges is led by a Governor-appointed board and provides leadership, advocacy, and coordination for Washington’s system of 34 public community and technical colleges. Each year, nearly 470,000 students train for the workforce, prepare to transfer to a university, gain basic math and English skills, or pursue continuing education. Visit our website at SBCTC.edu.