A few days ago CAHS presented at the Capitol our latest report: "Developmental Education Reform: Ensuring Success for All in Connecticut".
The report discusses the implementation of PA 12-40, the remedial ed reform bill approved by the legislature two years ago, and how it will affect new community college students. Our focus is, above all, in those students that need the most remedial education - usually adult workers that have been outside of academic environments the longest, usually low income or minority. These students often require several remedial courses before they are considered to be ready to attend college-level classes - and under the old, pre-reform system, often were discouraged and left way before they even finished them.
Our report is divided in four different sections:
- Why reform was needed - with a brief look at completition rates by group, and how remedial education was the least effective with adult students and minorities.
- An overview of the reform - including a description of the new "tiered" system established by the reform and a special focus on those groups that need the most remedial education.
- Challenges facing the reform - an overview of potential issues that students might be facing.
- Policy recommendations - including the need for more resources.
The legislature is considering adding additional resources for the implementation of the law this session. Last week the Appropriations Committee increased the budget allocation for developmental education from $4.5 to $11 Million. It is still unclear if the funds will be dedicated to transitional programs, those serving students that need the most remediation. CAHS will continue following this issue in the coming weeks and months, tracking the roll our of the reform.
"Policy background" is our article series explaining the basic elements of a piece of legislation or specific issue - a reference article of sorts.
A remedial education reform (PA 12-40) primer:
- Placement reform. Higher education institutions are required to use “multiple commonly accepted measures of skill” to decide if new students need remedial education. The legislators believed that the overreliance on Accuplacer, the testing software used to evaluate students, was forcing too many of them into remedial classes. Under the act, colleges need to use are least two measures to gauge the students’ level of knowledge.
- Limits to the amount of time that students can spend in remedial classes. Under PA 12-40, students cannot be enrolled in non-credit bearing remedial classes for more than one semester. (Classes in different subjects can be taken in different semesters.)
- Tiered, three level system for developmental education. Students will receive their remedial education either embedded in college level classes, through intensive remedial courses, or via transitional programs associated with the community college structure. The Board of Regents estimates that about a third of community college students who need developmental education will fall into each category.
The three remedial education tiers are:
Embedded remediation: Students who are close to being ready for college-level courses, but need some additional help to be fully up to speed. Students take part in college level courses for credit, but with embedded remedial education, attending a regular credit bearing class while receiving addition support from the teaching staff. Students can attend additional teaching hours, receive support from tutors, and undertake extra course work. The support is wedded into the subject of the class, so the student is not learning these concepts in a vacuum and can re-learn concepts without having to resort to a dedicated class.
Intensive remedial education: The embedded remedial education is viable for students who are close to being college ready. For those who will not be able to follow a course with additional math or English built in, PA 12-40 allows higher education institutions to provide intensive remedial classes. Community colleges are shifting their programs to shorter courses with more class hours and teacher support, often including additional lab time.
Transitional students: For those students who are not yet college ready and need more than one semester of remediation, PA 12-40 requires higher education institutions to create a pre-enrollment program to get them college ready. We discuss these models in depth in this report, and these students are the focus of our concern with remedial education reform.
In 2013, the Connecticut General Assembly provided additional program and budget support to help implement the requirements of PA 12-40, including:
- $250,000 for development of embedded and intensive model courses.
- $2 million for implementation of pilot programs for community college remedial students at all levels.
- Additional money for guidance counselors at each campus, as well as the creation of new faculty positions.
In addition, the Board of Regents dedicated $200,000 to develop transitional model strategies.
Have more questions? The Board of Regents have an excellent FAQ here.