Transitional English


Transitional English is a course developed through a partnership between a local school district and Parkland College; managed and taught by district faculty and staff; open to qualifying district students their senior year; evaluated and assessed by both the district and College through shared student achievement data; and enhanced by ongoing communication and professional development shared by the district and College.

Students who complete transitional English with a “C” or higher earn guaranteed placement into college-level English at Parkland College (and all other state community colleges and participating universities if the course is approved by the State Portability Board) regardless of ACT/SAT or other placement test scores; however, students do not receive a Parkland grade or credit or transcript; the participating district/high school solely issues and maintains the student’s grade, credit, and transcript.


Transitional English integrates active reading strategies, multiple-draft writing, comprehensive grammar/punctuation review, and metacognitive and essential skill building. Approved courses shall have demonstrated they meet the parameters and competencies outlined in the Illinois Statewide Transitional English Course Document with special emphasis on the following:

  • The inclusion of direct reading instruction such as (but not limited to) pre-reading and active reading strategies, summary of texts (including text books) that identify author intent and main ideas; evaluation of quality and reliability of texts; recognition of tone, purpose, and structure; ongoing vocabulary development.
  • Pedagogy and related college-ready text selections that are organized around themes, critical issues, or concepts that direct students to focus on larger ideas that foster critical thinking and analysis—with a special emphasis on non-fiction that reflects student choice, interests, and career and life goals.
  • Commitment to the integration of the reading of a variety of texts and the writing of multiple-draft essays.
  • Commitment to the full writing process, multiple drafts, and formative evaluation.
  • At least three, formalized essays of no less than 1,000 words in length.
  • Contextualized, comprehensive grammar and punctuation feedback and instruction.
  • Fostering of metacognitive skills that allow students to reflect on how their perspectives on both topic and the writing process have grown.
  • Essential skills building that relates to college, employment, and personal success including (but not limited to): goal setting, time management, persistence, problem solving, appreciating multiple perspectives, and solving conflicts.
  • Course activities and assignments will align with the Illinois Learning Standards while also meeting the Transitional English course descriptors outlined herein.


Grading and assessment are structured such that receiving a “C” or better indicates the competencies for the course were met and the student is considered ready for college-level English courses and college-level reading expectations. In addition, approved courses shall have demonstrated:

  • No less than 60% of the course grade is based on formally graded writing assignments.
  • The inclusion of at least three formally graded, multiple-draft essays of no less than 1,000 words each.
  • No single assessment or assignment amounts to more than 50% of the grade.
  • Assessments include a variety of diagnostic, formative, and summative evaluations
  • Assessments reflect commitment to multiple drafts and the full writing process.
  • Summative assessments value a student’s demonstrated progress.

Final Draft Assessment:

Final draft essays that pass with a “C” or higher shall exhibit the following:

  • Tone, structure, and content appropriate for the audience and purpose
  • Appropriate introduction-body-conclusion essay structure.
  • A recognizable thesis statement and/or unifying controlling idea.
  • Paragraphs that focus on one main idea introduced through topic sentences.
  • Smooth integration and documentation of appropriate outside sources.
  • Development of ideas through reasoning, figurative language, personal experiences, textual connections, and so forth, as appropriate.
  • Interaction with multiple perspectives.
  • Sentences that promote readability through grammar/punctuation choices.
  • Word choice—including verb usage—that promotes readability.
  • Transitions that unify the essay.
  • Appropriate, compelling conclusions.
  • Adherence to MLA formatting including proper headers, spacing, and source documentation.
  • A minimum of 1,000 words.

Student Eligibility

Transitional English is not an easy course, so choosing students who can benefit from it is crucial to student success. Transitional English classes best suit students whose previous performances and test scores indicate that they have the ability to do a pre-college English course—but perhaps have yet to live up to their potential and who demonstrate a desire to take advantage of the opportunity offered. Districts shall set parameters for determining eligibility that include (but may not be limited to) appropriate test score ranges and/or faculty and staff recommendations, student/parent interest in the course, and so forth. Districts shall submit their eligibility plan in writing to the Parkland College and the Local Advisory Panel for feedback and approval. Per agreement with our Local Advisory Panel, courses must be capped at 15 students in order to assure adequate time for reading instruction and process-based writing instruction. Approved districts may apply for an extension to a maximum of 19 students on an annual basis, if extenuating circumstances require increased seat count.

Links to Helpful Resources

Sample Approved Transitional English Syllabi

Design Tips for Courses

Project Flow for Obtaining Local Advisory Panel Approval for Transitional English

Directions for Transcripting Transitional English

Sample Materials From Rantoul High School Transitional English

If you have further questions, please reach out to Steve Rutledge, Transitional English Coordinator at Parkland Community College at