Developmental classes will be reorganized in accordance with latest TSI rules

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Correction: The BASE NCBO course will support INRW 0420. INRW 0305 is the course that will not be offered this fall, and those students will now take INRW 0420 Ready Set Go, which will include an NCBO, INRW 0020. The state does not pay for INRW 0420.

Integrated reading and writing changes will be in effect this fall.

By R.Eguia 

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

According to the approved Texas Success Initiative Exam operational plan for serving lower-skilled learners, published in spring 2014 by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, multiple levels of developmental education courses have not been effective.

Fewer than 35 percent of students who are not college ready in reading and writing successfully complete their first college-level course; fewer than 16 percent who are not college ready in mathematics complete their first college-level course. Moreover, data shows that students placing into the lowest levels of developmental education are less likely to progress than their higher-placed peers.

The plan offers 10 recommendations for the complete reform of developmental education in this state by 2017.

The first recommendation regarding the adoption of the TSI exam has already happened.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1244, directing the THECB to develop an assessment, the current TSI exam, to set a single threshold for college readiness applicable at all Texas public institutions of higher education.

Since the adoption of the latest TSI assessment in 2013, public institutions of higher education are now able to distinguish between students whose skill levels are within secondary school ranges and students whose skill levels fall below high school.

The state of Texas determines the qualifications of college readiness with the results of the TSI assessment.

In addition to setting standards for college ready, the state also set standards for adult basic education levels. These are scores that roughly equate to below the ninth grade level in reading, writing, and/or math.

Students assessed at Levels 5-6 on the TSIA Adult Basic Education Diagnostic are referred to as developmental education students. These students qualify for developmental education classes while students scoring within Levels 1-4 on the TSIA diagnostic are referred to as adult basic education and require a different degree of remediation than developmental education students.

The THECB said adult basic education students are more likely to succeed with a tailored set of interventions.

Basic Academic Skills Education is five newly developed non-course competency-based options that address students with a high school diploma who assess within Levels 3-4 on the TSIA adult basic education diagnostic.

Non-course competency-based efforts, which differ from the traditional 16-week, course-based model, are centered on the needs of the individual student and require a shorter period of developmental education.

Texas public institutions of higher education were eligible in fall 2010 to receive formula funding for non-course competency-based developmental education interventions.

Students are most familiar with the NCBO courses known as refresher courses, which are offered free of charge and require an exit exam that assesses a new level of readiness.

Phase 2 of the first recommendation requires “all institutions to implement at least one initiative addressing the academic and workforce needs of their students assessing at the ABE basic skill levels by fall of 2015.”

Two developmental pilot programs are active this semester for INRW and developmental math at this college.

Math Chair Said Fariabi said there are no changes this semester and the department is studying other options.

Jo Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, said, “There will be a real thrust for math transition for spring ’17 and fall ’17,  a rearranging of developmental math.”

The second recommendation states that an institution shall not use the TSI Assessment to test students without a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Rather, institutions will advise and refer these students to GED programs or other high school completion programs, both internal and external to the institution, including community or school-based dropout recovery programs for students younger than 26.

Recommendation 3 emphasizes the distinction between developmental students assessed at levels 5-6 versus adult basic education students assessed at levels 1-4.

Recommendation 4 requires that faculty content experts will identify and develop non-course competency-based options for inclusion in the Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual.

These options will be designed to address the needs of students assessing at Levels 3-4.

These particular options would be labeled “BASE (Basic Academic Skills Education) NCBOs” to distinguish them from NCBOs currently in use by higher education for developmental education interventions.

The English department is piloting the BASE NCBO course that will be offered to support the 0420 developmental course.

English Chair Mike Burton said there will be no ENGL1305 this fall. Students who would have placed in ENGL1305 will now be enrolled in ENGL 0420.

This class is an NCBO, which the state will pay for.

Burton said, “We are no longer an open access institution. Are we being fair to students from all backgrounds? Is this kind?”

Fabianke said this college has to follow what the coordinating board orders because they work with the federal entities who provide financial aid.

Some states, like Florida, do not offer developmental courses and implement the right to fail.

Recommendation 5 advises students to consider options such as higher-level courses or accelerated interventions based on their demonstrated areas of strength in each content area of the TSIA.

Institutions will advise students assessed at skill levels that vary across content areas (reading, writing and mathematics) to consider options supporting their strengths and be placed in higher-level courses with appropriate, accelerated interventions to ensure academic progress and success in all content areas.

Recommendation 6 advises students assessed in Levels 1-2 in all three content areas to pursue all appropriate options, including continuing education on campus or an appropriate organization serving this population such as the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services or other community-based organizations.

Recommendation 7-8 includes motions to increase state funding for ABE students and develop a statewide referral system to optimize the services provided to students assessed in Levels 1-2.

“How can we help students who don’t qualify? Extend help and let them do financial aid. Those are the laws,” Fabianke said.

The THECB is continuing to develop a multi-agency professional development program with focus on providing the necessary tools and resources to serve ABE students since summer last year.

The final recommendation requires that this plan be reviewed in the summer of 2018.

To view the complete TSI Operational Plan for Serving Lower-Skilled Learners, visit the “College Readiness and Success” page at thecb.state.tx.us and click developmental education/TSI.

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