College Spark grant supports new English courses at RTC

RTC was awarded a $49,994 grant to develop tailored English courses.

Renton Technical College (RTC) has been awarded a $49,994 grant to develop English courses tailored to make them more relevant and useful for students.

The grant was awarded by College Spark Washington’s annual Community Grants Program, a $1.3 million effort that supports projects to help low-income students prepare for college. Besides RTC, nine other college and K-12 programs received funds this year.

The RTC grant will support the planning and creation of a new suite of English courses for students seeking an associate degree. The courses will cover the topics, vocabulary and writing style used in seven general areas of study such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing and information technology.

The hope is that these courses will encourage students to complete an associate degree. Currently, many students in career training programs choose to earn a certificate of completion instead, because the degree credential requires them to complete several general education courses, including English.

“We want these English classes to be more engaging,” said Sarah Wakefield, Dean of General Education at RTC. “Right now, these courses are one-size-fits-all. We want to customize them to better fit the students’ interests.”

Students at RTC who complete a degree go on to earn better wages. In 2013, RTC degree holders who graduated in 2008-09 earned a median annual wage of $54,500, compared with $39,500 for certificate holders, according to the Education Research and Data Center (ERDC).

The plan is to design and produce the new courses in time for fall quarter in 2018.

College Spark Washington is an educational endowment that funds programs across Washington state that help low-income students become college-ready and earn their degrees. For details, visit www.collegespark.org.

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