12th Grade Transition Courses

[August 2015 Update]

Here’s the most current list of school districts and high schools signed up to offer the Bridge to College Math and/or English courses in 2015-16:

BTC District_HS List July15

August 5-7 we held a very successful training event for teachers and principals from all of the schools set to be offering the courses for the coming academic year; below are the agendas for the meetings for the principals and for the English (BCTE) and math teachers:

Principal Workshop Agenda

BTCE August Agenda for Teachers

Agenda math

[ May 2015 Update]

Here’s the latest list of Washington districts and schools that will be offering the Bridge to College courses (in math and/or English) in 2015-16, along with a screenshot visual of how the districts are spread across the state.

BTC School_District List May2015

GIS Screenshots

We are holding our “Train the Trainer” Institute June 28-July 2 in Vancouver; Bridge Course Trainers and Team Leaders (teachers who will be teaching the course and facilitating local Professional Learning Communities, PLCs, next year) will be gathering to connect with each other and get an in-depth perspective on the courses. They will also help plan the August 5-7 training for all the teachers (~300) who will be teaching the courses next year and begin shaping the work of the PLCs for 2015-16.

Math Transition Course Outcomes/Standards (May 2014)

English Transition Course Outcomes/Standards (May 2014)

Transition _Courses_Proposed Timeline


  • For the current year approximately 20,000 of the Washington high school graduates going directly into public higher education institutions in Washington were required to enroll in remedial courses. These courses cost the students money and time, and don’t provide college-level credits toward degrees or certificates.
  • One major component of this remediation problem is the lack of clear curricular alignment between high schools and colleges in terms of college readiness expectations.
  • The implementation of the Common Core State Standards, anchored in college- and career-readiness expectations, offers an opportunity to address this lack of curricular alignment by providing a common, shared understanding of college readiness.
  • With the advent of the new Smarter Balanced assessment system in spring 2015 to assess the Common Core, it is anticipated about one-third of high school juniors will score as “college-ready or above.” They will have a variety of opportunities to take challenging courses as seniors and accrue college credit (AP courses, Running Start, College in the High School, etc.).
  • The two- thirds (approximately 43,000) of high school juniors taking the Smarter Balanced assessment who are projected to score below college-ready will need senior-year options in English and math that will help them become college-ready and avoid remediation in college. Having such options will accelerate their progress into college-level work and greatly increase their likelihood of success in college.

Project Description

  • Design and implement senior year college readiness/transition courses in math and English that align with Common Core State Standards and pre-college courses in higher education, adapting and building from existing models here in Washington and around the country.
  • High school seniors who score below college-ready on the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessment will be the target audience for the courses.
  • Seniors who successfully complete the transition courses will be able to move directly to college level English and math courses without remediation or additional placement testing.
  • Course development processes will be collaborative among college faculty and high school teachers and counselors, in consultation with curriculum and assessment specialists.
  • The process will require a consensus agreement on what constitutes “success” in the courses and will help drive district/college curricular alignment based on a common understanding of “college readiness.”
  • Multiple districts across the state will pilot the courses in 2014-15; these pilots will reflect local district/college partnerships, with participating high school teachers and counselors and college faculty involved in both the course design process and joint professional development opportunities related to the Common Core and teaching the specific courses.
  • Project staff will convene the pilot sites’ staff and college faculty periodically during the pilot year to collaborate, evaluate, and learn from the implementation process.
  • The courses will be revised during summer 2015 based on outcomes from the pilots and made available to districts across the state beginning in 2015-16, scaled up statewide in phases over the next several years based on funding.

Project Outcomes

  • Strengthen the curricular alignment between high schools and entry-level college courses in math and English in order to improve the college readiness of students graduating from high school.
  • Provide clear incentives for students to take meaningful and rigorous courses in their senior year.
  • Develop and sustain local college-to-school district partnerships, with a particular emphasis on faculty and teacher collaboration.
  • Reinforce and integrate transcript-based placement efforts with the Smarter Balanced 11th grade assessment by clarifying 12th grade course options for students.
  • Build a deeper understanding of the Common Core State Standards for high school teachers and college faculty.
  • Provide options for rigorous and appropriate alternatives to Algebra II as the third year math requirement to expand pathways to meaningful degree programs in college.

Project Foundation/Background

  • This project builds on a strong history of college readiness work in Washington, both in math and English, pre-dating the current implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Since the early 2000s, SBCTC has worked jointly with OSPI, the Council of Presidents, the State Board of Education, and the Higher Education Coordinating Board to address remediation and high school-to-college transition issues, especially in the area of mathematics.
  • The agencies have collaborated in a series of joint meetings with community and technical college presidents, school superintendents, and baccalaureate provosts to explore common concerns and local partnerships to address remediation issues. Out of those discussions, SBCTC developed the Transition Mathematics Project (TMP), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Later the Higher Education Coordinating Board (now Washington Student Achievement Council-WSAC) modeled its English College Readiness Definitions Project after TMP. TMP involved fifteen local college/district partnerships around the state building collaborative projects, including joint curriculum, focused on Washington’s College Readiness Math Standards; the English definitions were only piloted at a handful of sites dues to lack of funding.
  • These agencies have continued their collaboration in the Core to College (C2C) project, which is focused on how higher education in Washington can be a constructive partner in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced assessments. WSAC is actively reinforcing the aims of the C2C work through recommendations in its Roadmap strategic plan and in its NGA-funded Improving Student Learning at Scale grant project.
  • The Core to College project has produced draft recommendations proposing how higher education institutions in Washington will use results from the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessment as part of the placement process for students entering college. Included in these recommendations are 4th year “transition” courses as an option for students scoring a 2 or 3 on the Smarter Balanced assessment. Success in these courses would allow students to enter credit bearing courses in lieu of college placement tests.
  • In October 2013, the Washington Core to College project hosted a meeting for a group of faculty and curriculum specialists in English and math (K-12 and higher education) from across the state to have a preliminary discussion of a statewide partnership focused on transition courses, including what such courses should address from a “college readiness” perspective based on earlier work in Washington and the Common Core state standards. In January 2014, C2C assembled small working subgroups to review and refine the ideas for transition courses produced at the fall 2013 meeting. These groups made preliminary recommendations about the course design that will be reviewed by the larger C2C Review Groups in English and math and refined in April 2014.
  • The Smarter Balanced policy recommendations about using the 11th grade assessment results in placement will be finalized this spring and shared broadly across the state in fall 2014, including at another joint meeting of community and technical college presidents, school superintendents, and baccalaureate provosts.


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