Multi-Level College Prep Courses in Math and English Save Time and Money

October  17, 2012

For questions or more information, contact:
Jen Boyer
Public Information Officer: Media Relations & Social Media
(425) 739-8236

While some of Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT) students come straight from high school with high school coursework still fresh in their memories, many are interested in our college to retrain for a new career, upgrade their skills to increase their chances of promotions in their current field, or to start work on a college degree after years away from school. Unfortunately, the lapse between their high school classes and today can be a barrier.

Until now.

Washington higher education students are required to have uniform levels of proficiency in English/writing and math before they can begin attending college-level courses in English and math (which are required for an associate or even baccalaureate degree at LWIT). Unfortunately, some incoming students' placement test scores don't meet college-level skill requirements, leaving students to face several quarters to a year or more of remedial math or English before they can even enter the college-level classes that will count toward a degree.

Understandably, some stop before they've even started, not willing or not able to make the time and financial commitment to this pre-college work.

LWIT this year took the bold lead in a new program designed to significantly reduce the remedial class requirements with multi-level courses titled Math 900 and English 900.

Instead of placing in the highest level of math or English their test scores allow, then progressing through subsequent classes, students can now opt to take Math 900 or English 900. In these courses, students are evaluated on their strengths and weaknesses, then assigned coursework to master their weak areas.

"These classes allow someone who maybe was only weak in three of 10 areas tested for Math, for instance, to just study those specific areas. Rather than requiring a student to take Math 70, Math 80 and then Math 90, a whole year of math, the instructor works with the student to master weak areas, theoretically allowing a very motivated student to complete all the required work to achieve college-level in one 10-week class," said Doug Emory, dean of Academic Core at LWIT. "The same goes for English 900, which has the added benefit of being particularly valuable to English as a second language students who historically place lower in English and face a great deal of English and writing coursework to meet college-level requirements."

Student response to multi-level Math 900 and English 900 is strong, with more than 100 students attending four sections of Math 900 and 20 students in the first English 900 course, which started Fall 2012.

Students with test scores that place them in Math 70, 80 or 90 are eligible to register for Math 900. Students with test scores that place them in ESL Level 5 or 6, ABE 46, English 92, English 93 or English 100 are eligible to register for English 900.

For more information on English 900 contact Michelle Behan at michelle.behan@lwtech or Merritt Hicks at, or stop by the Academic Skills Center (T-217) off the college library on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 1 and 4:30 pm. Students can also drop in to discuss the program with Neera Mehta ( in Student Services (W-207), on Mondays from 12:30-3:30 pm or Wednesdays from 4:30-6:00 pm. (425) 739-8300.

For information on Math 900, please contact William Bricken at, Hector Valenzuela at, or Sherry Mclean at Students can also visit the Math Lab in T413 for questions about the program.