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Green River English division awarded College Spark grant

College Spark, a Seattle-based foundation that funds programs helping low-income students prepare for college, has announced that it would fund a Green River Community College startup program that would develop an English placement system for high school students.

The College Spark grant, along with funds from the GRCC Foundation, totals more than $68,000 over a two-year period.

"This program will support a state endorsed, multi-faceted approach to placement in English so students do not solely need to rely on the recommendations of a placement assessment," said Joyce Hammer, the dean overseeing the English department. "This project will also help strengthen partnerships between Green River and the Auburn and Kent school districts who are participating in the initial pilot."

The grant is designed to help Green River English instructors Marcie Sims and Amanda Schaefer design a program that takes high school students' transcripts into account when placing students into college-level English courses. It will be modeled after a math placement program the college implemented in 2004.

Accurately placing students into courses reflective of their abilities helps "move students more quickly toward a 'tipping point' of a college degree or credential" based on practices established by the state. Correct placement also translates to cost savings for students who would have otherwise been placed into an English class from which they had already advanced.

Green River is one of six community and technical colleges to receive a grant from College Spark. The organization also considers projects for community-based organizations, four-year colleges and universities, education non-profits, and public agencies.

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