Tuesday’s Getting Past Go (GPG) Online Jam Telling the Story of Developmental Education: Using Data to Develop a State Strategy covered a full range of issues on how states can more effectively gather, analyze and report data on developmental education that can inform policymakers and continuous improvement processes.
In the coming months, GPG will be working with postsecondary leaders to examine this challenge in more depth. The result will be a series of tools that states and systems can use to more effectively use data to drive developmental education policy.
Look for more in-depth findings on the use of data in developmental education, including a complete analysis of the jam, in the coming days. In the meantime, feel free to check out some the resources we developed for the data jam on our Community of Practice page for GPG.
We entered the conversation with a summary of state and system reports on developmental education that showed that very few states gather comprehensive data on developmental education. Of the various state reports we studied, very few included data on the effectiveness of developmental education or the cost of instruction. In most cases, the only data available was how many recent high school graduates participated in developmental education. A very small piece of the puzzle indeed.
Over the course of the day the jam participants – who included state, system and institutional leaders in postsecondary education – moved from a practical discussion about how to define developmental education for both data and policy purposes to a broader conversation on how developmental education fits into state P-20 alignment efforts, economic development strategies and postsecondary college attainment plans. In essence, we moved from merely “defining” developmental education to “redefining” it and its role in larger state efforts to increase college attainment.
From a data point of view, it is often hard to pin down developmental education. While some states have standard definitions, many others rely on individual institutions to define it so that it meets their institutional goals. One leader described that while they know that their state’s four-year institutions delivered developmental education, the four-year institutions refused to acknowledge it as developmental education. As a result, many states are not able to get a complete picture of how prevalent developmental education is in their state. For the research or policymaker who is trying to understand the full scope of the developmental education challenge, the lack of clarity and transparency can be a problem.
While there was general agreement on what most of the data points should be for tracking the success of developmental education (developmental pass rates, college-level pass rates, retention, graduation and cost), there was some concern that simply gathering this data will not tell the whole story. Many states and systems have specific policies that define how developmental education should be delivered and without a clearer evaluation of these policies and strategies, we won’t know why students are or are not succeeding.
All of these issues led to a broader conversation on how we need to redefine developmental education so that it is seamlessly integrated into state college attainment strategies. Participants talked about the need for balance in state efforts between reducing the need for developmental education and more effectively serving those that require developmental education. Without a two-pronged strategy, states won’t make significant progress toward their goals to increase college attainment.
Jam participants laid out a full range of exercises that states, systems and institutions need to engage in to redefine and reform developmental education. Among the more interesting ideas shared in the jam were:
- Implementing early assessment and intervention strategies in high schools in partnership with postsecondary institutions.
- Assessing which skills students need to succeed in each discipline or career program and only require students to demonstrate those skills in their chosen field.
- Aligning adult basic education programs with developmental education programs to determine the essential skills needed to be successful in developmental education.
- Developing more customized solutions for students depending on what level of developmental education they require; immersion in college-level courses with academic support for those who are close to college-level, self-paced, competency-based modules using technology for those are at lower skill levels.
- Using diagnostic assessments that more accurately pinpoint student academic deficiencies, but also consider student career and academic goals.
- Leveraging P-16 data systems to create a more seamless and formative analysis of student skill deficiencies that can lead to earlier and more targeted assessment of student skill levels.
The day ended with a fascinating conversation about Missouri and its ambitious postsecondary reform agenda. Missouri is engaged in a series of initiatives to significantly increase college attainment rates as a key strategy for meeting economic development and workforce goals. While many at the institutional level feel that developmental education is a drain on resources, state leaders believe that reform can happen by viewing it as a critical component of their higher education reform initiative. The challenge they face is how to get a better handle on the current state of developmental education, how to measure its effectiveness and what the key measures of success should be tracked in the future. Which, of course, takes us back to where we started – how to use data to gain a broader and clearer understanding of developmental education in states.
At the end of the day we concluded that the collection, analysis and reporting of data on developmental education needs to be conceived as part of a larger state strategy to leverage developmental education to increase college attainment rates. Data needs to help define the challenges, but ultimately to track progress toward goals. This may not be an earth shattering conclusion, but many states are not there yet.
About one in three first-year college students in Colorado needs remedial help in at least one core subject, according to an annual report. State officials are confident that a new system in place to align Colorado’s K-12 schools with higher education will begin to reverse this trend. Overall, 52.7% of recent Colorado high school graduates who enrolled in two-year colleges in 2008 needed remedial help, while 19% of first-year students attending four-year colleges needed remedial courses. The report also shows how well high schools are preparing students for college-level work. (Denver Post, 02/09/10)
Cue the Bob Marley music!
The online jam, Telling the Story of Developmental Education: Using Data to Develop a State Strategy, is set to begin at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time on February 9, 2010. More than 90 people have registered for a conversation on how states and postsecondary systems can use data to more effectively inform policymakers about the role that developmental education plays in state efforts to increase college attainment rates. The jam will also examine how states and systems can use data to develop and evaluate policies related to the delivery of developmental education.
If you would like to join the jam and have not registered, email us at GPG@ecs.org.
Following are some resources to help prepare you for the jam:
Audio PowerPoint Presentation on State Reports on Developmental Education
Getting Past Go – Telling the Story of Developmental Education: Using Data To Develop A State Strategy
State Reports on Developmental/Remedial Education: Summary List of Reports
State Reports on Developmental/Remedial Education: Initial Overview
State Developmental Education Report Summaries (Database)
State Developmental Education Reports by Data Point (Database)
We look forward to seeing you online.
Achieving the Dream (ATD) has identified 21 institutions as “Leader Colleges” of their national initiative to empower community colleges to more effectively use data to increase community college success. According to ATD, the selected institutions, “have demonstrated comitment to and made progress on the four principles of Achieving the Dream: committee leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systemic institutional improvement.” In addition, each institution had demonstrated three years of improvement for the interventions they have focused on through ATD. The colleges have shown success in the following areas:
- Course completion.
- Advancement from remedial to credit-bearing courses.
- Completion of college-level math and English courses.
- Term-to-term and year-to-year retention.
- Completion of certificates or degrees.
The list of leader colleges are:
Broward College (Florida)
Coastal Bend College (Texas)
Cuyahoga Community College (Ohio)
Danville Community College (Virginia)
Durham Technical Community College (North Carolina)
Eastern Gateway Community College (Ohio)
El Paso Community College District (Texas)
Guilford Technical Community College (North Carolina)
Hillsborough Community College (Florida)
Houston Community College System (Texas)
Mountain Empire Community College (Virginia)
New Mexico State University-DoÃƒÂ±a Ana
North Central State College (Ohio)
Patrick Henry Community College (Virginia)
Paul D. Camp Community College (Virginia)
South Texas College
Southwest Texas Junior College
Tallahassee Community College (Florida)
Tidewater Community College (Virginia)
Valencia Community College (Florida)
Zane State College (Ohio)
Changing the Equation: Scaling Up a Proven Innovation is the National Center for Academic Transformation’s new national initiative to improve developmental math courses by implementing their Program in Course Redesign model funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Program in Course Redesign is a widely respected innovation in postsecondary education with its proven track record of using technology and faculty planning proccesses to redesign gateway courses at colleges and universities. Due in part to their work with the Tennessee Board of Regents and their success at Cleveland State Community College through the Developmental Studies Redesign initiative, this new initiative will extend the success of their work in developmental math to other institutions across the country.
In their January, 2010 newsletter, Learning Marketplace, NCAT’s President and CEO, Dr. Carol A. Twigg describes Changing the Equation and makes the case for how it will significantly impact efforts to remove the barrier that developmental math has to earning a college degree.
Institutions interested in applying for the $40,000 grants to participate in the project should can find the application guidelines on the NCAT Web site.
The Washington State Board of Community And Technical College’s (SBCTC) Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program is a model for how to effectively use data to identify a challenge and develop a strategy to address it. Research done by SBCTC found that students were able to reap the financial benefits of an education from their institutions if students were able to complete at least one year of instruction and ideally earn a degree. Unfortunately, many of the students who enrolled in their institutions were lacking in the basic skills they needed to even begin a program, much less earn a year’s worth of credits.
I-BEST met this need by designing courses where both adult education and instructors in career based certificate programs would co-teach courses that would enable to students to build their basic skills within the specific field in which they sought a postsecondary credential. The results were staggering with students enrolled in I-BEST outperforming students who enrolled in the traditional, consecutive course structure of completing basic skills before enrolling in their career training program.
The model is so successful that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded SBCTC a large grant to grow the program.
Jackson St. University, was awarded the Futures Assembly Bellwether Award for excellence in community college instructional services and programs for its SMART Math developmental studies redesign.
Smart Math was of the six pilots that make up the Tennessee Board of Regents Developmental Studies Redesign program that is co-directed by the Education Commission of the States and funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.
The project combines three developmental math courses into one course and then creates competency-based modules that allow students to pretest into the modules in which they have academic deficiencies. In addition, the program uses a competency-based, computer-based program that allows students to move at their own pace. Students who need more time are not penalized for not completing the course, instead they re-enroll, picking up at the module in which they hadn’t met their competency.
In addition, the program aligns each module with the academic requirements of 40 majors at the campus. In most cases, students do not need to complete all nine modules to be termed competent to pursue the education program of their choosing.
In the end, students completed their developmental math requirements at high academic levels and more efficiently than the traditional developmental math sequence. Even more impressive is that the program was able to capture significant cost savings for both the college and students.
Congratulations to Jackson St.
Following is a summary and the language of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010, supported by Governor Bredesen. The bill is driven largely by this report by Complete College America.
This bill revises various provisions of present law governing higher education in this state in the following areas: statewide master plan, funding plans, university tract program, dual enrollment, remedial and developmental instruction, a community college system, and the University of Tennessee and Oakridge Collaboration.
HB 7008 and SB 7006
Education – As introduced, enacts the “Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010.” – amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9.
Remedial and Developmental Instruction
Under this bill, four-year institutions governed by the board of regents and the University of Tennessee board of trustees may not provide remedial or developmental instruction, as those terms are defined by THEC, to any student. However, any such four-year institution with a student needing remedial or developmental instruction may coordinate efforts with any two-year institution governed by the board of regents so that the two-year institution may provide the remedial or developmental instruction, provided that the student has been admitted and is enrolled in both institutions.
Community College System
This bill requires the board of regents, in consultation with the THEC, to establish a comprehensive statewide community college system of coordinated programs and services to be known as the Tennessee community college system. This bill further requires the board to develop a plan to transition from the existing system of thirteen independently managed institutions to a comprehensive statewide community college system managed as a unified system. Such plan must identify any statutory changes needed to accomplish the transition.
As part of its plan, the board must identify and implement consolidation of services among institutions and standardization of processes between institutions in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness in all functional areas, including but not limited to student services, academic support and institutional support. The plan also must incorporate the use of block scheduling and cohort programming as a means of delivering educational programs within the Tennessee community college system. This bill requires the Tennessee community college system to pursue strategies to create mutually beneficial relationships with technology centers such that certificate programs may be offered at community college sites and community college courses may be offered at technology centers.
These requirements must be fully implemented no later than July 1, 2012.
The Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010 passed both houses of the Tennessee legislature with amendments and was signed by Governor Bredesen on January 26, 2010
Here’s the final draft of the legislation with amendments.
Several of the Education Commission of the States staff members just finished a great conversation with Charlie Lenth from the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) about the implications of the Common Core Standards Initiative on higher education. Our conversation got me thinking: What does a national, albeit voluntary, set of standards — that articulates for what is college- or work-ready — mean for higher education and particularly developmental education? While a first reaction is that higher education will continue to set its own standards for admission and college readiness, you would assume that there will be a great deal of pressure placed on higher education to align their admission standards with these common standards. Afterall, what is the point of setting rigorous standards if they would not have some utility for determining academic qualifications for college?
My concern is that much of the rhetoric around higher academic standards in K-12 is that the end result should be the elimination of remedial/developmental education. While this is an admirable goal, I hope that the mechanism to achieve it isn’t a reduction in access to postsecondary education. Several states, such as Kentucky, have set specific goals to reduce or eliminate remedial education in higher education by a specific date. Kentucky, in its comprehensive education reform legislation, Senate Bill 1, set a goal to reduce remedial education by half by the year 2014. The legislation continues by stating that the alignment of K-12 and postsecondary standards should result in students no longer requiring remedial education. Kentucky is not alone, with Indiana and Tennessee policy leaders suggesting that the elimination of remedial education is the goal. The problem with these goals is not so much that we aspire to a world without remediation, but that the means used to get there will result in a decrease in access. In other words, students who do not meet the standards may be discouraged from enrolling in higher education because colleges will be discouraged from providing remedial education.
I am an optimist, however, and believe that as the common core standards are adopted and move to implementation, it will open up a new conversation about how to ensure that all students have access to and are able to earn a college credential. In order for this conversation to take place and achieve the desired results, I believe we need to change the metaphor of the common core standards from setting a higher bar to hurdle to providing a brighter beacon for students to follow.
By viewing the common core standards as a beacon that communicates to students, families and K-12 education the academic preparation that provides the greatest opportunity for success in higher education, we can open the door to greater innovation and collaboration between K-12 and postsecondary education on how we can guide students to this new, brighter beacon.
If we state that a student must have achieved the common standards in order to gain access to postsecondary education, we are, by definition, setting a bar that some students won’t achieve in the time and or sequence that our system supports, no matter how hard we try. However, if we say “this standard is the destination we want you to reach and here are the multiple paths you can follow to get there,” we can develop more innovative and customized solutions that meet students where they are, whether that be a high school graduate, high school dropout or a returning adult.
Here’s a practical for instance. In Tennessee, they are proposing a new policy for remedial/developmental education where cut scores on the ACT are not an absolute standard for placement into remedial/developmental education, but instead a flag for further diagnostic assessment of students who score below the cut score. The diagnostic assessment can result in two outcomes: either a more precise assessment of skills that can lead to a prescribed level of learning support that would move students to the standard or quite possibly a placement out of remedial/developmental education. In this example, the cut score is a beacon that all students and K-12 educators can be aware of and reach, but if they don’t achieve that score it doesn’t mean they can’t enroll in postsecondary education; it just means we need to develop a strategy for how to get them there.
If you throw in to the mix a set of diagnostic assessments that take into account the student’s academic and career goals, you can further prescribe a level of academic support that is specifically aligned with the program in which they seek a degree.
If we do this right, we can have our cake and eat it to. We can have rigorous college-ready standards, but we also can construct customized and highly efficient remedial/developmental instruction for those who don’t achieve the standard.
My point is that the percentage of students who participate in remedial/developmental education is an irrelevant statistic if we can ensure that all students are able to get the skills they need to earn a degree. The statistic we should care about is the percentage of students who are placed into remedial education who do get a degree. We should not care about who goes in, but who comes out the other side.
This approach opens the door to a full range of innovation and opportunities such as: postsecondary and K-12 partnering to deliver early assessments and early interventions with high school students; redesigning developmental education courses that are self-paced and competency-based; and strategies that align developmental instruction, college instruction and workforce preparation into one coherent strategy.
Let the common core standards be a beacon for all to follow at a pace and means that meets students needs, not a single bar in which all students must hurdle at a time and manner specified by educators.
Getting Past Go invites you to join other state education and policy leaders for an online jam: Telling the Story of Remedial Education: Using Data to Develop a State Strategy. The jam is scheduled for February 9, 2010 from 12-7:00 p.m. EST.
An online jam is a flexible and innovative dialogue that allows you to participate at your convenience throughout the day through a text-based forum.
Telling the Story of Remedial Education will focus on the following key questions:
- How can states more effectively use data to inform policymakers and the broader public on the impact that remedial education has on the college success of students who enter postsecondary education academically underprepared?
- How can states use data to evaluate and continuously improve state and system strategies to serve students who require remedial education?
The dialogue will involve conversations with policymakers and postsecondary leaders who are engaged in innovative strategies that effectively use data to improve remedial education. In addition, the jam provides you an opportunity to become part of a national “community of practice” of state leaders committed to improving remedial education policy.
To register for the online jam, please email GPG@ecs.org by February 5, 2010.