Impact & Stories

Success Stories

Achieving Dreams at Renton Technical College

When Renton Technical College (RTC) was recognized as a “Leader College” by the Achieving the Dream Foundation, the college credited its notable student success rates to Reading Apprenticeship. Campuswide, measures of student retention and completion had grown from 61 to 72 percent over a three-year period. Faculty members were reaching 53 percent of the workforce students with Reading Apprenticeship approaches.

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 own students and offered in-class modeling and coaching for faculty who requested it. They also established an informal Reading Apprenticeship support group on campus.

When demand for Reading Apprenticeship professional development exceeded what the team could manage, RTC began offering the 6-week, 30-hour online introduction to Reading Apprenticeship, a course designed specifically for community 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 “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.”

An important piece in the evolution of Reading Apprenticeship at Renton was Michele’s hunch when she first started using Reading Apprenticeship approaches that the changes she was feeling in her Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes were more than wishful thinking. She decided to gather hard data and see what stuck. Over five terms Michele used Reading Apprenticeship approaches and collected student data, data that bore out her observations.

After 33 hours of instruction, students in her ABE courses 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.

Michele’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 campuswide retention and completion rates, fuels the ongoing support for Reading Apprenticeship at Renton Technical College and is encouraging faculty at an increasing number of community colleges to give Reading Apprenticeship a try.

Reading Apprenticeship in Adult Basic Education

ABE Reading Apprenticeship
Life and Work Skills Reading and Math Assessment1
33 hours instruction 3-5 pt. gain
National Average
Life and Work Skills Reading and Math Assessment2
100 hours instruction 5 pt. gain

1 Data collected by Michele Lesmeister in ABE classes 2008-2009.
2 CASAS Life and Work Test Administration Manual, 2005, p. 13.

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