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College Spark grant aims to move low-income students past remediation, into college-level courses

May 15, 2014 by Laura McDowell

OLYMPIA, Wash. – High school graduates will have another way of getting placed into college-level classes and possibly avoid remediation thanks to an effort funded by College Spark Washington. The organization has awarded a $150,000 grant to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to help three community colleges – Bellevue, Big Bend, and Peninsula – use transcripts to place students into the appropriate level of math and English classes rather than relying on placement tests alone.

Students who miss placement test cut-off scores for college-level math and English can land needlessly in remedial courses despite their success in high school. The State Board will use the grant to help the colleges create grids that match high school transcripts to the appropriate level of college work.

“Placement tests are still valuable tools, but there’s a growing concern about their limitations and a shift in our colleges toward offering multiple options for placing incoming students,” said Bill Moore, SBCTC Core to College alignment director. “This project gives high school students another way to show they are ready for college-level work.”

Colleges will build the transcript grids in partnership with local high schools and under the guidance of faculty from Green River Community College, which pioneered the transcript approach in Washington’s community and technical college system. Results will be measured against two College Spark goals: decreasing the number of students who require remedial education in college, and increasing the number of students who earn their first college-level credit in English or math.

Moore said the transcript grids will also help students understand how classes and grades lead to certain levels of college classes. “This project gives students more control over the placement process and honors the work students and teachers do in high school.”

College Spark’s annual, competitive statewide Community Grants Program funds new and promising practices that help low-income students become college-ready and transition successfully to college. Remediation is a particular concern nationwide because low-income students are more likely to end up in remedial courses, which can either make or break their chances of moving through college.

College Spark also awarded individual grants to Everett, Green River, Tacoma and Peninsula colleges for projects that help low-income students transition to, and succeed in, college.

“We are supporting organizations across the state working hard and making progress on postsecondary access, persistence and completion rates for low-income students,” said Christine McCabe, executive director at College Spark Washington. “These grantees will be tracking their results and sharing what works.”

Since 2005, College Spark Washington has awarded more than 100 community grants totaling $14 million.


Jennifer Locke Whetham, SBCTC faculty development program administrator, 360-704-4354 or

Christine McCabe, College Spark Washington executive director, 206-461-5374 or

Laura McDowell, SBCTC communications director, 360-704-4310 or

Last Modified: 6/18/18 3:43 PM
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