For over 35 years Amarillo College has been concerned about students who come to school who are underprepared. In 1974, the Dean and Vice-President of Academics, Dr. R. E. Byrd, made the decision that something must be done to retain the students who were enrolling in classes but not completing or being successful. After much thought and research it was determined that the college would offer a reading class to help students. That was the beginning of the Reading Program at Amarillo College. The college was not mandated to do this but only wanted to serve students better.
The reading class was a success, and students were so appreciative of the opportunity to improve skills. The word soon spread and students were enrolling because they wanted to be successful.
With the support of the College and administration the one reading class grew to 3 levels of developmental reading. The College designed an AC Placement Test to place students into the different levels. Thus students were required to take a placement test upon enrolling at the college. Students were then placed into the required developmental classes. The statistical data collected at the College supported the concept that these classes make a difference for the students who enroll them. For the most part, they do as well in college-level classes after completing developmental as those students who were prepared for college-level at enrollment.
In 1989 when the state mandated the Texas Academic Support Program (TASP), Amarillo College was ready. They had been serving underprepared students for over 15 years. They only had to fit their program into the mandates of the Texas Legislature. In 2003, the legislature repealed TASP and replaced it with the Texas Success Initiative (TSI). This program uses assessments, advising and developmental classes to ensure students have college-level skills just as Amarillo College did over 35 years ago. Amarillo College continues to change and modify classes and look for unique and better ways to serve students and to ensure they are ready for the college-level coursework.