No pass, no problem — transition course available

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A college prep course opens new doors for high school students who plan to enter college.

By Brandon A. Edwards

A yearlong college prep course, known as an English transition course, offered at high schools is preparing students for college, the chair of English, education, humanities and journalism-photography, said Feb. 27.

“I began working on this project about four years ago,” Mike Burton said. “We had an alignment committee of college and high school faculty with, administrators from the high school and college level.”

Students attending local high schools who have not passed the Texas Success Initiative test by their senior year may sign up for transition courses.

Mandated by Section 28.014 of House Bill 5, each public school district must partner with at least one institution of higher education to develop and provide college preparatory mathematics and English language arts.

Courses are designed for students who need a senior English credit, are not in dual credit courses, have not passed the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) and still would like to go to college.

The Texas Success Initiative is a standardized test taken by high school students to determine their college-readiness level.

Students who do not pass this standardized test are placed when they enter college in a remediation course based on the academic section that was failed.

Seniors going into their final year of high school have several options to choose from to earn a senior English course credit.

“Students can maybe take a dozen different courses to achieve a senior English credit,” Burton said. “You could take a journalism class, a theater class, even a creative writing class.”

When this course was introduced, high school teachers expected a majority of students who have not passed the TSI would instantly gravitate to this course.

“Only the students who are intending to go to college and haven’t passed the TSI are enrolling in the course,” Burton said.

“The English transition course is roughly equivalent to our INRW 0420, Integrated Reading/Writing 2, which is our highest level pre-college course,” Burton said.

While the course is beneficial to students, it hasn’t gained the popularity initially expected.

The Recommended High School Program implemented in Texas high schools required high school students to take four courses in mathematics, English, social studies and science over the course of their high school tenure.

Students also want to enroll in the electives of their choice.

Students who want to pursue a higher education are the students enrolled in transition courses.

“Initially this course was created for students who have not thought about college and who have not passed their English end-of-course exam,” said Mary Helen Martinez, district director of college and career readiness.

Seniors who successfully complete their transition course become TSI exempt.

Students will have two years to use this exemption after their high school graduation date, she said.

“It’s a conditional exemption period,” Martinez said. “When the student comes to the Alamo Colleges, they have one year to take the English course.”

Since the implementation of HB 5 in 2014, students have taken an interest in the prep course.

Statistics show 623 high school students have taken the transition course since its debut implementation in fall 2014.

Of the school districts in the greater San Antonio area, 29 of 38 school districts have signed a memorandum of understanding.

A memorandum of understanding is a formal agreement between two or more parties. While this memorandum is not legally binding it carry’s a degree of seriousness and mutual respect.

“The memorandum of understanding is very important because without it students would be unable to enroll in transition courses at their high school,” Martinez said.

These transition courses provide an opportunity high school students seven years ago would love to have, she said.

For more information on transition courses, contact the high school’s administration office or a high school counselor to see if a school district offers this course.


Source: Mary Helen Martinez, director of college and career readiness


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