ASCC-CAPP streamlines developmental English and Math instruction

Based on data from the past several years regarding students who test into developmental (pre-100) courses in English and Math, the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) has begun a new program to properly prepare these students before they enroll in regular college-level courses (i.e., numbered 150 and above).

The College Accelerated Preparatory Program (CAPP) makes developmental courses in Math and English reading and writing the sole focus for incoming students whose placement test results indicate a need in either or both of these areas.

Rather than schedule a mixture of classes at both the pre-and-post-150 levels, some of which they may not truly be ready for, students in the CAPP program instead focus on accelerated versions of the developmental Math and English courses which will enable them to prepare more quickly for regular college-level courses.

ASCC determines the English and Math skill levels of incoming students based on results from either a standard college admissions tests like the SAT/ACT/TOEFL or the College’s own placement test.

For several years now, a portion of the incoming students to ASCC have tested into developmental classes in English and Math. Previously, they have been able to take a combination of classes above and below the 100 level, but as the college-level classes place more of an emphasis on writing and in many cases math as well, those without adequate preparation have faced a significant disadvantage. This past spring, ASCC established a multi-disciplinary committee to develop, plan and implement a program to better address the needs of students at the developmental level. Based on existing data and modeled on similar programs at other colleges, the committee formulated CAPP and put it into practice as a pilot project this past summer.

“Our project was designed to improve developmental Math and English Language Institute (ELI) programs, with the goal of helping students achieve college readiness as quickly as possible,” said ASCC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle.

“Our first step was to change the delivery model and improve assessment. CAPP students work in six week intensive blocks, two each semester, with the ability to move up a level after the first block if they have achieved the required skills. Ideally, a student could complete English 90 and 91, as well as the Math requirements in one semester instead of one year and be ready for college-level classes.”

Under CAPP, students who place into ENG 70, ENG 71, ENG 80, ENG 81, ENG 90, ENG 91, MAT 80 or MAT 90 now take accelerated versions of those courses which last for six weeks and meet daily. The classes last for a minimum of two hours, and the students also have access to tutorials, support services and academic advisors.

“We have also ordered 60 computers for two labs in developmental English and Math,” said Dr. Kolhoff-Belle. “These labs are classroom-based to enable the students to integrate technology into their skill development.” CAPP students may enroll in regular (i.e. numbered 150 and above) ASCC courses after completing their required developmental classes. 

The summer pilot of CAPP provided encouraging results. The program served a total of 189 students in developmental English, out of which 107 completed their requirements in that by exiting ENG 90 and ENG 91. 31 passed ENG 80 and 22 passed ENG 81 to continue with the next level developmental courses. A total of 97 students took developmental math courses, with 58 exiting MAT 90 and 11 passing MAT 80.

With the fall semester now underway, instructors in CAPP English and the Math Department now find themselves adjusting to the “new model” of daily class meetings even while in some cases still phasing out the “old model” of previously-scheduled sections which meet two or three days a week. “Having the students with me every day makes it easier to keep them motivated and build a rapport with them,” said CAPP English instructor Ben Goodwin. “Sometimes when you have a day between classes, like I do with some of my ‘old model’ sections, it’s more of a challenge to establish and maintain continuity.”

Dr. Kolhoff-Bell explained that ASCC developed CAPP through funding from the Department of Education Strengthening Institutions Grant, also known at Title 3. “We are funded under the Asian American and Pacific Islander program. This grant supports institutional improvements and new initiatives to help colleges fund projects that are otherwise beyond their resources,” she said.


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