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Lt. Governor Simon tours Lewis and Clark 

Highlights new way to teach developmental math, English

GODFREY – April 1, 2011. Looking for ways to improve college completion rates, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon brought her Complete College Tour to Lewis and Clark Community College today to observe a new way educators are teaching math and English.

Lewis and Clark is piloting a program that embeds developmental math and English material into college-level courses to keep students engaged and on track to complete a degree or certificate on time. If successful, this could be replicated and help all Illinois schools meet college completion goals.

Simon announced earlier this year that Illinois leaders want to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent from 41 percent by 2025. By touring the state’s 48 community colleges, Simon is able to see the program successes at each campus, while also compiling ideas to overcome the barriers to each college’s completion goals.

“We need to improve our higher education system today, so that our next generation of students graduate prepared for the jobs of tomorrow,” Simon said.

Lewis and Clark administrators said the newly designed math and English courses are an alternative to non-credit bearing remedial courses that are needed to get students up to college-level learning, but can slow down their progress toward a degree. Like many community colleges statewide, about 70 percent of Lewis and Clark students test into development math courses, with nearly 50 percent testing into developmental English courses.

“In the tradition of action research, we make adjustments along the way as we learn what works,” said Lewis and Clark President Dale Chapman. “We have great faculty, academic administrators, and student services staff working in cross-disciplinary teams to increase student success in and after developmental courses, to ensure they stay in school and meet their goals.”

One challenge that many community colleges face, including Lewis and Clark, is how to best measure completion, Chapman said. Current completion rates only tabulate if an enrolled student eventually completes a degree or certificate, but does not account for a student’s original enrollment intention. Therefore, if a four-year university student takes a community college class over summer break or a degree-holding adult seeks a single class to update skills, both are characterized as non-completers because ultimately, a degree or certificate was not issued by the community college. Community colleges throughout the state are looking to implement better metrics to classify these students.

Simon’s stop at Lewis and Clark was the seventh stop and last visit to the Metro East area on her statewide tour. She plans to report her tour findings and reform recommendations to the Governor later this year.