INRW improving student success at Palo Alto College

By Joseph Losoya
Pulse Staff Reporter

INRW students studying in the the INRW Lab. Photo by Joseph Losoya.

Integrated Reading and Writing (INRW) is a statewide initiative to combine Developmental Reading and Writing, making for a quicker transition into college-level classes.

INRW student Ashby Padilla said, “Here, they’re preparing you to be in the next level. High school was as long as you’re passing your TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), you’re fine.”

Students who take the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment Accuplacer and place in Developmental Reading or Writing will now be part of INRW. Palo Alto College students who place in developmental classes will be enrolled in either the 0305 class or the higher level 0420 class. Both classes meet twice a week with a 3-hour class and a 1-hour lab. The 0305 class is being taught by Diana Flowers and Matilda Staudt. The 0420 class is being taught by Frank Crayton and Diane Lerma. INRW has 15 sections with a maximum of 22 students per class.

Thomas Murguia, coordinator of Tutoring Services at Palo Alto, said, “We want to give the students as much support as we can because we know that we’re accelerating the developmental course work.”

The INRW lab is located in Nueces Hall, Room 114, and it is open Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hunter Bates, Academic Programs specialist, has received a lot of positive feedback from students. He is working to boost attendance for INRW workshops, such as having teachers send their classes to a workshop.

The INRW lab was previously the Reading Center. Since Developmental Reading is now combined with Developmental Writing, the lab has been changed. Students enrolled in 0305 complete one hour of lab time with their teacher, and 0420 students have one hour of lab time independently.

In the lab, students have an opportunity to complete class assignments, online exercises, their reading log or attend an INRW workshop. A tutor is always available for assistance, or a student in the lab may request an independent tutoring session.

Robert Casillas, a sophomore 0420 student, enjoys the lab part of his class and accomplishes a lot in his hour. INRW has helped Casillas improve his writing skills and reading comprehension. He is much more confident in writing introductory sentences, a thesis and transition sentences.

Casillas said, “I had two people come to me on how to write an essay because they didn’t know how to.”

Another part of INRW is the refresher course. Students who score in Developmental for Reading, Writing or Math on the TSI Assessment will be issued an automatic registration hold. The hold will stay on file until the student goes to a four-day refresher class and takes an exit test. If the student fails the test, they will stay in Developmental-level classes for that subject.

The INRW refresher class gives students another chance to test out of a developmental-level course. Students do not have to attend the refresher class. After the class is over, the hold will be removed. At this point, the student will then enter into a developmental class. The refresher class is an opportunity to skip over developmental classes.

“The purpose (for INRW refresher) is that, hopefully, your memory is refreshed, you remember,” Matilda Torres Staudt, lead instructor for INRW, said. “Oh yeah, I remember how to write. I remember how to read. Got it.”

In previous years, Developmental Reading had three levels of classes, and Developmental Writing had two levels before entering college-level classes. INRW saves students time and money by combining both courses. Merging both classes resulted in English and Reading teachers having to attend an additional 9 hours of training because English teachers are now teaching Reading and vice versa. The training was handled and managed by the District.

For more information, go to the INRW Learning Center in Nueces Hall, Room 114. Their hours are Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays, 8 3 p.m.