Harper College

Transitional English

What is Transitional English?

The State of Illinois’s Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act of 2016 is designed to improve how high school students transition to postsecondary education, workforce training, and careers. One of the key measures of the PWR Act was to define competencies needed so high school students could avoid being placed into remedial reading and communications courses in college (110 ILCS 148/70). As noted in a joint statement:

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), and the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) are jointly committed to increasing the number of high school graduates placed into college-level reading and communications courses without the need for remediation.”

To increase the number of high school graduates placing into college-level English, a combined effort of high school and college instructors, school administrators, and state officials developed a high school course called Transitional English. The State of Illinois Board of Education defines Transitional English as follows:

Transitional English instruction builds on students’ experiential and academic knowledge to develop skills in reading, critical thinking and analysis, and writing that will enhance their success in college-level courses across majors and career pathways while aligning with the Illinois Learning Standards.”

The year-long course, which is used as a fourth-year Language Arts course, meets the State and local high school graduation requirements. Harper College, along with its high school partners in Districts 211, 214, and 220, designed the course to have students “college ready” after completion.

What does it mean to be "college ready"?

Students are considered to be “college ready” based on two competencies: Metacognition and Essential Skills. These are defined by the State of Illinois as:

Metacognition: to support students to consider how, why, and when to employ various reading and writing strategies and processes; and

Essential Skills: relating to overall college readiness, employability, and life success.

These skills are evaluated through integrated activities and assignments in the course.

Students are assessed both holistically and progressively. A holistic assessment incorporates a variety of diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments to measure students’ progress toward attainment of the competencies. A progressive grading approach must offer multiple opportunities for feedback and student reflection and support students to demonstrate skills and growth over the length of the course.

Who is eligible to benefit from Transitional English?

The Transitional English course is designed for students who are projected to not be ready for college-level English at the end of their junior year. Readiness is measured by each high school using a variety of measurements. To be eligible for Transitional English, a high school student must have completed three prior English course credits. Any high school student projected ready for college English is advised to take an early college credit English course (e.g., Advanced Placement or dual credit) during their senior year. 


Students will need to provide an official transcript from your high school showing a grade of “C” or better in a designated Transitional English course. No other actions will be needed.

According to State law:

Transitional English Pathways Outcome Courses Students successfully completing a Transitional English course with a grade of “C” or better are guaranteed placement into: i. The college’s accepting courses that have been identified under the Illinois Articulation Initiative as: a. C1900 Writing Course Sequence, b. C1900R Writing Course Sequence, and c. C2900 Oral Communication; and ii. Any other courses with a reading placement requirement or requiring placement into the courses described in (i) above.”

Students receiving a “D” in the Transitional English course will receive high school credit to satisfy Illinois and school district learning standards, but they are not guaranteed placement in college-level English courses. Students are encouraged to take the English placement test to determine possible placement into first year college-level English (English 101) or possible pre-college-level coursework.

Students receiving a “F” in the course will not receive high school credit to satisfy Illinois or school district learning standards. Students are encouraged to take the English placement test to determine possible placement into first year college-level English (English 101) or possible pre-college-level coursework.

Placement is guaranteed up to three years after the date of the student’s high school graduation date. 

Yes, the course will meet the requirement for college-level English into all Illinois community colleges.

Please check with the individual university to see if it is valid for college-level placement into English.


Last Updated: 12/14/23