Those in the field of developmental education are urged to pay close attention to some potential shifts in policy over the next few years. Yesterday (July 30), the Coordinating Board approved a plan to systematically examine different approaches, reportedly based on valid research and best practices. As reported here frequently, Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes has often called for a "complete overhaul" of developmental education.
Coordinating Board (CB) staff seek approval of a long-range plan to improve the effectiveness of developmental education in Texas. The Coordinating Board will leverage its partnership with the new doctoral program in developmental education at Texas State University-San Marcos and the recently funded Developmental Education Initiative with the Gates Foundation to help execute the proposed long-range plan. The proposed plan will focus on four strategies:
Developmental Education Demonstration Projects
The core strategy for the long-range plan is to fund several demonstration projects that focus on broad systemic reform of developmental education in community colleges. The projects will implement innovative strategies based upon best practices in developmental education to improve access, acceleration, and success of students placed into developmental education coursework. Through rigorous evaluation models,
these projects will help the CB determine the effectiveness and scalability of these initiatives around the state. The key program elements for the demonstration projects will focus on:
• Assessment and placement
• Academic advising
• Differentiated instruction
• Faculty development
• Program evaluation
• P-16 alignment
This strategy will focus on improving the preparedness of developmental educators. In the January 2007 report of the State P-16 Council-Developmental Education Subcommittee, recommendations were made to address the inherent weakness of the professional development delivery system for Texas developmental educators. The subcommittee reported that developmental education professional development is lacking in availability, quality, and relevance. Teacher quality has a direct impact on student outcomes.
Technical Assistance to Institutions
This strategy will work in tandem with the comprehensive demonstration projects. This effort will focus on providing professional or management advice and training provided by state and national experts in developmental education and organizational development.
The CB’s Strategic Plan for Texas Public Community Colleges calls for institutions to Close the Gaps in Excellence by obtaining national recognition for programs and services. Under this strategy, community college districts will be encouraged to seek national recognition for developmental education programs.