Wilkes Community College in North Carolina is striving to break the cycle of literacy-centric problems in their state. Impaired by proficiency levels below the national average, over one million North Carolina adults and their families suffer from disadvantages like unemployment/underemployment, poverty, and poor health. The college provides literacy, ABE, GED, ESL, and Adult High School programs to improve reading, writing, mathematics, and communication skills. Students in these programs range in age from 16 to 80, and they’ve got one goal in common: to better their lives.
We are able to provide more targeted instruction. Knowing exactly what types of questions the students miss gives us an advantage.
Jason Pilkington, Basic Skills Coordinator
Jason Pilkington, the Basic Skills Coordinator for Wilkes Community College, works tirelessly to see his students accomplish that goal. The first step to achieving this hefty mission is to get learners on track with the appropriate placement and academic plan. By creating a plan, Pilkington would be able to tackle the second issue: test anxiety. Students were experiencing unease when it came to taking these tests because they didn’t know what to expect, or what would be expected of them.
Jason found the Wonderlic General Assessment of Instructional Needs (GAIN). That’s a basic skills assessment that evaluates English and math levels and provides detailed diagnostics to aid the teacher in creating an individual learning plan. A huge help for his not-so-small task.
“I was blown away by the diagnostics report,” he says. “It’s so specific – we can focus the student on specific skills they need to reach the next level.”
WCC students previously tested with a different assessment find GAIN to be less stressful due to the shorter testing time and incremental structure. Plus, the graphical report showing their progress is a mammoth motivator. The reports are an indispensable tool for the teachers at Wilkes as well.
“We are able to provide more targeted instruction,” Jason explains. “Knowing exactly what types of questions the students miss gives us an advantage. We’re able to teach them exactly what they need and not waste time on areas they already know.”
As well, GAIN has been a huge time-saver for staff.
“We are always seeking ways to be more efficient so that more of our time is spent actually helping students learn, rather than doing paperwork. With GAIN, teachers no longer need to grade the tests – we get results immediately – and tracking each student’s educational gains for NRS reporting has never been easier.”
The administration also expects to see increased EFL scores over the program year, thanks to their ability to now target instruction directly to students’ needs. Most importantly, they are indeed helping students to reach their goals – faster.