Acceleration Spotlight: Las Positas College

Expanding and Refining an Established Accelerated Program

Las Positas began offering accelerated developmental English in 1999. Over the last several years, because of strong student outcomes, the English department has increased its accelerated offerings so that these courses are now the primary curriculum for developmental English.

Nearly 90% of students who don’t qualify for College English are now directed to a 4-unit integrated reading-and-writing course that leads directly to English 1A. The remaining 10-12% of students enroll in an eight-unit, two-semester integrated reading-and-writing sequence. For this group, an additional acceleration mechanism is in place: students are able to skip the second semester and go directly to English 1A if they earn 90% or higher in their coursework and pass the pre-1A department final.

Key Student Outcomes

Fall 2005-Spring 2009

During this four-year period, students self-placed into either the two-semester developmental sequence or the one-semester accelerated course. Both options were open-access with no minimum placement score.

Developmental Course Success Rates

An average of 70% of the students who enrolled in the accelerated option passed the course. Students in the two-semester sequence had an average success rate of 65% in the first semester and 68% for the second semester. The rate of withdrawal from the accelerated sections averaged 15.6%, compared to 20.5% in the first semester course and 15% in the second.


College English Success Rates

Once students got to college English, the pass rate was exactly the same – 70% — for accelerated students, non-accelerated students, and students who placed into the course.

Completion of College English from Different Entry Placements

Las Positas is currently working on a cohort pipeline analysis to track the percentage of students who complete 1A from different starting points (1A, 1-level below, 2-levels below). However, the above success data illustrates the broader principle that the lower a student starts, the lower their 1A completion rate will be. The completion rate for those placing directly into 1A was highest at 70%, and it went progressively down as the students were lost by either not passing a level or not persisting to the next level.

Currently, LPC staff and faculty are making efforts to improve the program offerings and meet student needs.  They have changed the structure of the program by converting the remaining second-semester sections of the longer sequence into accelerated classes in order to improve access for students.  They are also piloting a cut-score for their placement tool, Accuplacer, which has steered the majority of students into the accelerated option and allowed them to focus on developing more specialized curriculum for student placed in the two-semester sequence.

Finally, Las Positas English faculty are in the early stages of exploring the Accelerated Learning Project developed by the Community College of Baltimore County. This model mainstreams developmental students into college English and provides an additional support class to help them meet the higher level of challenge.


March 11, 2011

For more information:

Karin Spirn, English Department Coordinator, Las Positas College

See also the LPC English Department’s website for the Faculty Inquiry Network