College revamps developmental classes

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By Bleah B. Patterson

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

This college will introduce a combined reading and writing course in the spring for students to transition from developmental to college-level classes.

Students will be able to take one class, INRW 0420, Integrated Reading and Writing, instead of up to two developmental English classes and three developmental reading classes.

This is part of the district’s revamping of developmental education in reading and writing, and math.

Incoming students will be divided into AlamoReady for those testing at grades nine through 12, and AlamoPrep for students testing at eighth grade and below, according to a presentation by Dr. Lisa Alcorta, director of developmental education and academic success, to the board of trustees Aug. 13.

Along with the INRW course, developmental math will undergo changes starting in summer 2014.

The Texas Success Initiative assessment test will be administered to decide who needs the developmental class.

Aug. 26, the TSI assessment replaced Accuplacer, Texas Higher Education Assessment, Compass and Asset tests.

“I am optimistic,” English Chair Mike Burton said. “However, the wrinkle is that every student who tests below a college level must take an English refresher — “eight hours for students who test in the upper level and 16 hours for students who test in the lower level.”

Burton said the problem is most students are unaware this is mandatory and that they must take it a semester before they enroll in the INRW class. Burton said students come in ready to take the INRW and must wait a semester to allow them time to first take the refresher.

In the refresher, students will spend eight to 16 hours in the English lab with a full-time or adjunct professor. The refresher is free and there is no textbook.

The TSI assessment test will place students in the appropriate course or refresher based on its results.

If students test at a college-level, they will be able to enroll in ENGL 1301, English Composition 1. Students scoring between grades nine-12 will be required to take the eight-hour refresher course.

The course will be offered Monday-Thursday for two hours each day, or Saturday with four hours in the morning and four hours in the afternoon.

Students scoring grade eight or below will be required to take a 16-hour refresher.

The schedule will be the same as it is for the eight-hour refresher course but over two weeks instead of one.

Upon completion of those hours, students are evaluated and the professor will decide whether the student is ready for ENGL 1301, INRW 0420 or INRW 0305.

A student who tests slightly below college-ready can be placed in an ENGL 1301 “ready-set-go course,” Burton said.

The ready-set-go program, begun in spring 2012, is the same as a regular ENGL 1301, but is a four-hour course instead of three.

Burton said students scoring slightly below college-ready benefit from the extra hour in class because the continued work in a classroom is better than trying to complete all their writing assignments outside of class.

Burton said 90 percent of students taking the ready-set-go program pass ENGL 1301.

This new developmental system combining reading and writing is designed to save a student time and money, he said.

In the first two weeks of this semester, nearly 100 students each week took the new TSI. Seventy percent of these students tested below college level in English and reading, he said.

The TSI assessment tests students in a similar manner as the Accuplacer. The English faculty consider the TSI to be an updated version of the Accuplacer.

Burton said the refresher is a way of weeding out students who simply are not good at testing and saving them time.

The problem, he said, is many students are up to par with college-level classes, but they get lost in the technical side of testing.

While this is not a foolproof system, the English and reading department has high hopes that it will help better place students where they belong, he said.

For more information, call the English and reading department at 210-486-0950.

Carlos Ferrand contributed to the story.

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