As described in the catalog and each course schedule, students enrolling in most credit courses and also testing into remedial reading, must concurrently enroll in remedial reading courses. Faculty and academic administrators should discuss and arrive at agreement regarding the logic of enrolling students in any required remediation as a co-requisite along with transfer courses that purport an expectation of expertise in reading ability for student success (p. 12)
Disagreement with this particular finding was addressed immediately in a letter from President Richard Behrendt, indicating clearly that “the reading co-requisite requirement was agreed upon and instituted at Sauk Valley Community College after much discussion and debate . . . based upon several factors”Letter to Dr. Karen Kietzman, July 31, 2002, bound into Final Report from Comprehensive Visit, April 1-3, 2002. Given the conclusions elsewhere of the 2002 Visit Team that faculty were not adequately in control of curriculum and that planning and assessment were not systematic, it makes sense that the team questioned both the motives for this policy’s existence and the means by which it was developed. Sauk's response to the concerns about assessment and planning has, as a byproduct, created systems and vitalized faculty involvement in curriculum in ways that should make clear that the concurrency requirement is currently recognized by both faculty and administrators as an integral part of an overarching approach by the college to assisting and supporting the underprepared portion of an open-enrollment student population. However, because the Visiting Team addressed this concern as an integrity issue and because Dr. Behrendt promised that “This new requirement will continue to be monitored,” the response merits an extended discussion:
Reading skill is only one of a variety of barriers to success that students bring with them into the open enrollment environment of a community college. Sauk has always shared and addressed the concern expressed in the team’s statement that students need to be adequately prepared to succeed in college-level course work. To this end, an array of support services is provided for students. Students placed in reading courses are being provided help with strategies to aid in other courses they are taking concurrently (whether developmental or college-level). For underprepared students, reading skill is sometimes less a factor in a failing grade than time management, lack of family support, or just finding a quiet place to study. Assistance for overcoming these barriers is necessarily provided “concurrently” to the student’s enrollment in coursework. So, the concurrent enrollment policy in reading is an important part of a larger arsenal of support that Sauk provides to many students while they pursue courses they have selected (3C.4).
In addition, the strategic planning and assessment systems establish reliable processes that ensure administrative and faculty attention is given to policies like the concurrent reading enrollment requirement. Faculty address reading skill prerequisites as a curricular decision whenever outlines are written or revised, and they assess and discuss student reading skills as part of the regular general education competency cycle. The inclusion of the Academic Development Department as an operational planning group in FY11 provides additional assurance that annual review takes place; in addition, state-mandated cross-curricular program review ensures a comprehensive review every five years. If the concurrent reading enrollment policy were to become a detriment to students, the college would know and take appropriate corrective action.
Current data confirms that the concurrent reading enrollment is not harming student success rates. Students who earn a C or better in Efficient Reading (RDG 098) are also reasonably able to succeed in the college-level courses in which they are concurrently enrolled. Data for FY10, for example, showed that 70% of those who earned a C grade in RDG 098 earned at least a C in a college-level course; 66% of those who earned a B and 72% of those with an A had been successful in a college-level course. By contrast, 29% of those who earned a D in RDG 098 were also able to earn at least a C in a college-level course; only 21% of those who earned an F and 14% of those who withdrew were successful in other college classes. This data supports the assertion that the skill set necessary to succeed in college work is much broader than solely reading level. The college has concluded that holding students out of college-level courses until the reading level reaches college level on a standardized reading test would unnecessarily hamper those students who are ready and willing to engage in the broad spectrum of support services available while they learn and apply them in ways that allow them to succeed in coursework.