College Spotlight

Transforming ESL: Boosting Student Achievement

August 7, 2023

Morgan Kennedy, Reading Area Community College

Reading Area Community College faced the challenge of serving a predominantly Hispanic and low-income student population, who exhibited low rates of completing courses and graduating. In order to address this issue, the college underwent a transformation of their Academic ESL program. The objective was to enhance student achievements by refining the program and providing specific support tailored to the distinct requirements of the diverse student community.

Case Highlight

Recognizing the need to improve course completion and graduation rates for multilingual students, Reading Area Community College undertook a comprehensive transformation of their Academic ESL program, introducing a new initiative called English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Faculty members became actively engaged in the intake process, collaborating closely with advisors to ensure precise student placement. The college also implemented a standardized curriculum for EAP courses. Faculty members received valuable guidance and mentoring to deliver consistent, high-quality instruction across diverse learning modalities, including online, virtual, and face-to-face classes.

Lessons Learned

  • Conducting a thorough needs assessment and accurately placing students in appropriate programs ensures that students receive the necessary support and instruction tailored to their specific language proficiency level and academic goals.
  • Standardizing the EAP course curriculum ensures all students receive consistent and high-quality instruction regardless of the learning modality or schedule.
  • Establishing a dedicated support center for multilingual students can contribute significantly to student success by providing resources, guidance, and mentorship beyond the classroom.

Implementation Tips

Collaborate with stakeholders

Engage key stakeholders such as faculty, staff, administrators, and students throughout the implementation process. This collaboration ensures a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to program development and implementation.

Allocate resources strategically

Allocate resources effectively to support the implementation of the program. This includes securing funding for faculty training, curriculum development, support services, technology infrastructure, and staffing needs. Prioritize resource a

Offer Personalized Support

Implement a system for ongoing evaluation and improvement. Regularly assess the effectiveness of the program, gather feedback from stakeholders, and use data to inform decision-making. Identify areas of success and areas for improvement, an


Top 5

Finalist for Examples of Excelencia in 2018 for increasing success of Latino students


Persistence rate from Spring 2022 to Fall 2022


Average course success rate in Fall 2022