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A national public policy initiative to improve developmental studies in postsecondary education

The Role of Minority Serving Institutions in Remedial Reform

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In the movement to shift most, if not all, remediation to community colleges, many states must clarify the role of four-year minority serving institutions in remedial education reform.

In many states, minority serving institutions (MSIs) serve as the open access option for students who seek a bachelor’s degree and beyond.  In particular, the nation’s public historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) were specifically created to provide open access to the nation’s African Americans and more recently have begun to serve increasing numbers of Latino students. Part and parcel of this mission has been their role in providing remedial education. As states shift remedial education away from four-year institutions, this traditional role has been put into question.  In some cases, this change could have a dramatic impact on MSIs.

There are few models for how four-year MSIs can continue to achieve their mission without offering remedial education courses, but some states have identified approaches. For example, Florida has created a caveat in its state policy to allow institutions that statistically qualify as MSIs to provide remedial education. At South Carolina State, the institution has attempted to meet the needs of students through support services, rather than remedial courses.  In most states, four-year institutions are encouraged to partner with local community colleges to provide remedial education on campus or in a manner that does not deny access to the four-year institution.  In Tennessee, students can be co-enrolled in the four-year institution and the local community college.

Nowhere are the issues more significant than in Louisiana.  Higher admission standards at the state’s four-year institutions, including HBCUs, and a policy to eliminate remedial education at four-year institutions could lead to significant drops in enrollment and a fundamental change in the core mission to the state’s HBCUs, Grambling State and Southern University.  The new admission standards take effect next year as do the changes in remedial education. The Louisiana Board of Regents is examining how to make the transition through a legislatively created commission to study the challenge. GPG will follow the developments in Louisiana to see if they can lead the way on the role of MSIs in remedial education reform.

GPG will be studying this issue in more depth early in 2012. GPG partners, the Center for Policy Research in Preparation, Access and Remedial Education (PRePARE) and Knowledge in the Public Interest will be convening MSI leaders through on an online jam. In addition, research findings from PRePARE’s extensive case studies in states will be released early next year.  For more information about GPG’s work with MSIs, please contact Tara Parker at