Kelso students earn UW credits in high school

For the first time ever, students at Kelso High School will have the opportunity to obtain college course credits without ever leaving campus. The University of Washington College in the High School English 131 Composition, piloted this year to seniors only, is designed to help students recognize and refine their skills as readers and writers. Upon completion, students will obtain 5 college credits and, most importantly, will have established the skills needed to be successful as they pursue their learning beyond high school.

Under the direction of teacher Bob Gustin, the course objective is achieved by outcomes set through the University of Washington’s Expository Writing Program. Throughout the course, students approach writing as an ongoing, recursive process that involves critical reading, discussion, prewriting, drafting, responding, revising, and editing. In addition, students design and complete most of their own assignments, create their own arguments for essays, and determine their best work to include in their final portfolio.

The university and the district have ensured students are equipped with the necessary resources to be successful. The primary text for the course is Contexts for Inquiry: A guide to Research and Writing at the University of Washington; which is issued to each class participant. In addition, students are also granted access to the University Libraries for the duration of the course.

Gustin met with 40 additional teachers across the state this summer to fine tune their syllabi and share what is working in their schools. 

“Being able to take a college class on campus is truly invaluable,” explains KHS senior Thomas Kockritz. “You get the exposure to what a college workload will be like but can still work with a high school teacher. It’s a great transition.”

Students’ final grades do not depend on one high-stakes test, but are earned over time. Those who have completed the course say they are better prepared for college-level work and their study skills have improved as a result of taking the course.  

Kockritz explains that the time he spends in the college course is about the same as his other classes but with one significant difference: the critical thinking work. “Taking this course has allowed me to ask questions and develop a new approach to my writing. I like learning the different strategies for reading, analyzing and writing. It’s a different way of learning for me.”

“The course is designed to help students become more thoughtful, skilled, confident readers and writers,” explains Gustin. “These students are self-starters and work hard to improve their skills throughout the year. I’m overjoyed to see this type of opportunity come to Kelso. Our kids will truly benefit from the chance to receive college credit without having to ever leave campus. And most importantly: gain the skills they need to succeed beyond high school.”

In collaboration with Gustin, the Kelso School District and Kelso High School Language Arts department have been instrumental in supporting the effort to get opportunities like College in the Classroom to students. “We are only a few months into school and I can already see the benefits,” explains Gustin. “The skills and lessons students are learning through this program are truly priceless.”

For additional information on College in the Classroom contact Bob Gustin at