Impact & Stories

Success Stories

“Leader Colleges” Meet Campus Goals with Reading Apprenticeship

Since 2011, 37 community colleges across the country have joined 35 others already recognized as Achieving the Dream™ “Leader Colleges.” Four of those recent leader colleges use Reading Apprenticeship as a significant strategy to improve student persistence and completion rates.

North Central Michigan College in Petoskey, which was included in AtD’s 2013 leader cohort, cites Reading Apprenticeship as one of the strategies that has made a difference for its students. In 2009, a few North Central faculty attended Reading Apprenticeship professional development and liked what they learned. These instructors spread the word, and the North Central administration began sponsoring on-campus Reading Apprenticeship workshops. Full-time and part-time teachers of diverse credit-bearing and developmental courses have attended, with the goal of redesigning their courses to integrate stronger literacy support in their subject areas and to accelerate students’ learning in developmental courses.

Currently, more than 60 percent of North Central students have been in classes whose instructors use Reading Apprenticeship approaches. North Central has also hosted Reading Apprenticeship workshops for faculty of other community colleges through the Center for Student Success of the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA).

In addition, the local intermediate school district, following the lead of North Central, has adopted the Reading Apprenticeship model at the secondary level as a significant component of its professional development program.

At Northern Essex Community College, an AtD Leader College since 2011, the student success course, which emphasizes Reading Apprenticeship, is a key to this northeastern Massachusetts college achieving its goals for first-time students. In the course, students learn to use Reading Apprenticeship approaches for demystifying their subject area textbooks. Their literacy learning is contextualized—and accelerated—by being embedded in college-level, not remedial, content. Initially, the course was limited to academically underprepared students, but the success of the success course caused Northern Essex to scale up from 13 sections in Fall 2011 to 30 in Fall 2012, with the goal of eventually including all first-time students.

At the 2013 Achieving the Dream annual meeting, faculty from Northern Essex and Pasadena City College in California co-presented a program for infusing Reading Apprenticeship into First-Year Seminars.

A second Massachusetts AtD Leader College, Roxbury Community College, in metropolitan Boston, targets its Achieving the Dream work toward the one-third of students who start their coursework with developmental English and the one-half of students who start with a developmental math course. Professional development, learning communities, and Reading Apprenticeship are the primary interventions at the college, which reports that its students have the lowest incomes and greatest number of dependents in Massachusetts. Over half of students receive Pell grants.

Renton Technical College has been an Achieving the Dream Leader College since 2011. At this Seattle-area campus, Reading Apprenticeship is the school’s primary student success intervention. Since 2008, faculty across the workforce areas—from anesthesia technician to welding—have participated in Reading Apprenticeship workshops and/or a six-week online professional development course. In addition, basic studies faculty have increasingly come on board, so that many students now experience an early on-ramp for applying Reading Apprenticeship approaches to reading. A driving goal for Renton has been student persistence from one term to the next, achieved by giving students more control of the technical reading they must do as career professionals and to earn a workforce degree or certificate. Since launching its Achieving the Dream efforts, student persistence has increased from 61 to 72 percent.

(A related story provides additional detail about Reading Apprenticeship at Renton Technical College.)

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