Renton Technical College (RTC) in Seattle, WA serves 4,105 students, with over 60% of its student body identifying as minority. When Renton was recognized as a “Leader College” in 2011 by the Achieving the Dream Foundation, the college credited its notable student success rates to Reading Apprenticeship. After implementing Reading Apprenticeship campus-wide, Renton saw measures of student retention and completion increase from 61 to 72 percent over a three-year period. Faculty members were reaching 53 percent of the workforce students with Reading Apprenticeship approaches.
- Develop faculty insight across career and technical fields for how apprenticing students as disciplinary readers supports learning and achievement
- Support faculty across career and technical fields to update curriculum and instructional methods
- Support all students to persist and succeed in academically rigorous courses and sequences
Implementation of Reading Apprenticeship
Building support for literacy campus-wide
Renton first supported faculty access to Reading Apprenticeship by sending a faculty team to an intensive seminar in leading Reading Apprenticeship professional development. The team then began implementing Reading Apprenticeship with their students and offered in-class modeling and coaching for faculty. In addition, Renton established a Reading Apprenticeship support group on campus.
When demand for Reading Apprenticeship professional development exceeded what the team could manage, Renton began offering the 6-week, 30-hour online introduction to Reading Apprenticeship course (Reading Apprenticeship 101), a course designed specifically for college faculty.
At the conclusion of the first, “sold-out” online course, Michele Lesmeister, the course instructor and leader of the campus Reading Apprenticeship effort, reported that faculty enthusiasm for Reading Apprenticeship at Renton was remarkable.
People right now are changing curriculum like you can’t believe it on this campus. I have been here 20 years and I have never seen this campus pulled together on one topic like this [online Reading Apprenticeship] course has done.
— Michele Lesmeister, Renton Technical College instructor & Reading Apprenticeship campus leader
Impressive gains in retention, completion, and achievement
Lesmeister became a faculty literacy leader and advocate for campus-wide Reading Apprenticeship professional learning based on her success in using the Reading Apprenticeship framework in her classroom and the positive results she observed in her students’ performance.
When Lesmeister first began using the Reading Apprenticeship approach in her Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes, she decided to gather hard data to document and verify the transformation she was observing in the classroom and in her students’ work. Over five terms Lesmeister used Reading Apprenticeship approaches and collected student data. This student data bore out her initial observations and confirmed that she was on the correct path towards increasing her students’ academic success, retention, and completion rates.
After 33 hours of instruction, students in her ABE courses, Lesmeister’s students made average gains of approximately 3 to 5 points on the Life and Work Skills Reading and Math Assessment, compared to the national average gain of 5 points after 100 hours. Thus, students in these classes were able to meet their learning goals in approximately one-third of the time expected.
Lesmeister’s students also had impressive gains in GED (General Equivalency Diploma) completion rates. In fall quarter 2009, 39 percent of students in her ABE classes were pursuing their GED. During that time, 66 percent successfully completed three of the required five GED examinations. In previous quarters, approximately 50 percent of the GED students had completed the same number of GED tests.
This kind of student success, in individual classrooms and in campus-wide retention and completion rates increasing from 61 to 72 percent, fuels Renton Technical College’s ongoing support for Reading Apprenticeship today.