Struggling Riverland students to get reading help

Published 9:23 am Monday, January 9, 2012

Riverland Community College officials are planning to give students a little more help on their reading skills this fall.

Riverland will set up a reinforced safeguard for students pursuing an associate’s degree in liberal arts or sciences who score 62 or lower on the reading comprehension portion of Accuplacer test, which Riverland uses to determine college entrance, by offering college preparatory classes in reading, composition and mathematics.

The benchmark, which Riverland officials refer to as a reading cut score, will go into effect in the fall.

Email newsletter signup

“Sometimes students come to you as adults, or after a period of time, and they’re a little rusty,” said Ron Langrell, Riverland Vice President. “They need a warm up.”

If students score a 62 percentile or below on reading, they would automatically be enrolled in a college prep class.

The move comes as Riverland officials realign and streamline student services and adapt to Minnesota State College and University initiatives. The study came after faculty noted there were some students enrolled in liberal arts classes who were struggling, according to Jan Waller, Dean of Academic Affairs in Liberal Arts & Sciences.

“We … felt like we were placing students into a course a little prematurely,” Waller said.

Riverland officials looked at student Accuplacer scores over the past five years and found that on average, about 1 in 10 Riverland students scored below a 62.

“When you get to 1 in 10 of your students placing there, it now constitutes a sizeable enough group to look at support,” Langrell said. “Now it’s helping that 1 out of 10 get their chin over the bar.”

Riverland already offers resources for students like the Writing Center and tutor opportunities, but Waller said the college hopes to expand student resources to include a Math Center, a Science Center, and more. This policy shift is the latest in a series of Riverland adaptations. Riverland officials restructured various student services into one department in 2011 to ease student wait times and create a focus on student retention. Instead of going to three or four advisers for admissions, registration, financial aid and counseling, students go to one.