EKU Works with Local Schools to Offer English Transition Course

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A collaborative project to offer an English transition course with area school districts continues Eastern Kentucky University’s commitment to developing high school partnerships to promote the college and workforce readiness of Kentucky’s youth.

Four schools are participating with EKU’s College of Education and Department of English and Theatre in the pilot year of a three-year project that will offer both reading and composition instruction designed to promote college and career readiness to high school seniors who did not meet ACT benchmarks for college freshman English.

High school teachers determine course design with the assistance of postsecondary faculty and the guidance of core standards released by the Kentucky Department of Education. This year, the course is offered at Madison Central, Madison Southern, Berea Independent and Somerset Independent High Schools.

Members of EKU’s Department of English and Theatre are working as Professional Education Fellows with participating schools. Current fellows are Dr. Robert Milde, Kim Creech, Jane Clouse, and Shawne Alexander.

The College of Education is providing funding assistance, as well as guidance, for the three-year project.

“The college readiness initiative began in October 2009 as a response to Kentucky Senate Bill 1 (which established college readiness goals for Kentucky) and has continued to develop because of the high school administrators and teachers who have agreed to lend their support and expertise,” said Creech, who has been involved in the process from the earliest stages.

“EKU’s math department had already begun partnerships with schools to develop a math transition course, which was another influential factor to initiate action,” she added.

In addition to building professional relationships between high school and college instructors that will enrich reading and writing instruction at both levels, the program is designed to help students meet the writing/reading challenges of postsecondary education and the workplace and contribute to the literacy development of Kentucky residents. It will create opportunities for professional development for all participants and enrich possibilities for continued growth and collaborations.

“Institutionally, this project may reduce the number of students who are required to take developmental composition and reading courses, thereby serving the University and its faculty and students,” Creech noted. “Most importantly, this project will provide students ‘a leg up’ to degree completion, reducing the time to achieve degree status and reducing the financial costs to students and their families.”

Clouse, who has been partnered with Madison Central and Madison Southern High Schools along with Creech, explained that the project is expected to grow.

“We are committed to EKU’s service region, the Southeast/South-Central Cooperative and other schools that have been targeted for involvement,” she said. “We anticipate more than doubling the number of schools who will participate next academic year, 2011-12. We have already received signed memorandums of understanding from seven schools.”

The project has also established a Transitional Literacy Learning Community that serves as an open forum for discussion, collaboration and resources for participating schools.

The collaborative nature of creating the course involves several other University groups, including the Center for Learning Excellence, Office of Academic Placement and Testing, and Information Technology.

Published on November 22, 2010

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