Students in INRW courses progressing at higher rate

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Passing, failing and dropout rates influence state funding.

By Sabrina Griffith

Districtwide students placed in English classes below college level are beginning to show improvement because of remedial reading and writing courses, Mike Burton, English, reading and education department chair, said.

Colleges in the district began offering INRW 0305, integrated reading and writing, and INRW 0420, integrated reading and writing, in fall of 2013.

They replaced three English and two reading developmental courses.

Burton said in an interview Feb. 5 that when students take the Texas Success Initiative Assessment or State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness and their score is below college level, they are required to take a refresher.

After taking the eight-hour refresher course, the students take another test to determine whether they can place higher than the placement warranted by the TSIA or STAAR.

The English program also added ENGL 1301+, Ready Set Go in spring of 2012 “for students who are just below college level,” Burton said.

In this college alone, an estimated 1,520 students have taken integrated courses since spring of 2014.

Of the students in the district placed in INRW 0305, the course for students who score lower than high school level, 49 percent placed out of the course, and 51 percent did not after taking the eight-hour refresher course.

Of the 49 percent who moved up, 35 percent moved to INRW 0420, 11 percent moved up to ENGL 1301+, Ready Set Go, and 3 percent moved to ENGL 1301, Composition 1.

ENGL 1301 is the first college-level English course.

Of the students who placed in INRW 0420 and took the refresher, 37 percent moved up in placement.

Out of that 37 percent, 26 percent moved to Ready Set Go and 11 moved up to ENGL 1301. INRW 0420 is for students who score at the high school level.

This course starts off as a one-hour INRW 0420 course for the first four weeks and once students pass this part, they move on to a three-hour ENGL 1301, Composition 1, for the remaining 12 weeks, Burton said.

These students are not required to take the refresher course because they are already taking an INRW course and going into ENGL 1301.

He said there is pressure to pass students because a portion of funding from the state Legislature is based on the Student Success Initiative.

The Student Success Initiative is the overall percentages of passing, failing and dropout rates, among other factors, that decide how much funding the college gets.

Every college in the state competes for this funding, Burton said.

He said the old developmental courses are not popular with the state Legislature because they required funding five developmental courses, instead of two INRW courses.

Funding is the reason for this change, he said. “Student success is not the end.”

“Ultimately, community college gives something that adds value to the community,” he said.

When students come to community college for whatever reason, they soak in information, they broaden their horizons, they are exposed to ideas, they are empowered and they understand systems, and they are able to communicate ideas, Burton said.

“Community colleges have always been open-entry,” he said.

Open-entry gives students “open access” to education instead of “shunning” them into vocational education, he said.


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