Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-40

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING OPEN ACCESS TO COLLEGE LEVEL COURSES.

Vote Date:

3/13/2012

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/16/2012

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill attempts to address the large numbers of community college and university students, in need of remediation who drop out of higher education. The bill looks to provide students with remedial needs open access to introductory courses, with intensive support and increase the completion rate for 2 and 4 year program.

Substitute Language:

The intent of the language is to detail and incorporate concepts, such as using “multiple commonly accepted measures of skill level” to assess student's needs and to create intensive, embedded support while the student is in an introductory course. It calls on the P-20 Council and the Board of Regents to develop these intensive programs, as well as, implementing college readiness testing in high schools and for returning or first adult learners and to share those results with parents or guardians, in the case of high school students.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Mr. Robert A. Kennedy, President, Board of Regents, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities:

Provided several charts with data derived from the centralized institutional research data base, or IRDB and the institutional research repository for the state universities, or IR repository.

Dr. David Levinson, Interim Vice President for the Connecticut Community Colleges of the Board of Regents ConnSCU:

Dr. Levinson submitted testimony and spoke at the public hearing calling this problem a “dilemma”. He notes that the Board of Regents is concerned with this legislation. He cites several different trends, the fact that: if a student needs remediation or lower level math remediation, the percentage of those who graduate decreases, full-time students need less remediation than part-time students, and though Connecticut State University students need less remediation, about 1 out of 5 first year full time students enrolled in at least 1 remedial class. Dr. Levinson feels that an intensive summer program or semester long program, which was tried by an initiative of the City University of New York, would provide positive results, but that the current model of “disconnected” classes would not work, as students tread water, lose motivation, and dropout. He cites a possible Darwinian result of more students dropping out sooner in their college tenure, if the bill is passed. Programs and research such as Achieving the Dream and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Developmental Education Initiative have shown positive results and methodologies.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Mr. Steve Cohen, President, Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges:

Spoke to the need of higher education to be student focused and not focused on college graduation rates; but rather look longitudinally over several years. He provides two examples of students he taught, one student came to his class only to get computer skills to land a job with Metro North and one had come back to learn after many years away, doing other jobs, joining the military, and had finally come back to finish his degree.

Professor Peter Denegre, Developmental English, Tunxis Community College:

Spoke passionately and in favor of this bill, noting the many struggles outside of the classroom his students have to face. He spoke about the pejorative nature of the word “remedial” and the physiological impact it has with students. He spoke to the need for more faculty and resources and to provide opinions and be flexible with students, in order for this legislation to succeed. But without help the chances that students will fail are high.

Mr. David C-H Johnston, Education 'R We:

Provided testimony and spoke at the public hearing, cautiously in favor of this bill. Mr. Johnston detailed in his testimony that he has a long career working in life skills learning and calls to provide support for remedial populations outside of the classroom and in the summer, as a “bridge” to transition from high school to college. He agrees that remedial classes fail too many students and goes on to speak in favor of an academic article by Patricia Stanley that advocates tying career counseling and targeting academics back to career aspirations, in order to provide motivation for entering students.

Mr. David Downes, Vice President, Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education and Director of Adult and Continuing Education for the West Hartford Public Schools:

Mr. Downes submitted testimony supporting the intent and manner in which the bill was drafted. He specified that it would allow his students to gain credit (thus saving the student's time and Pell grants) for remedial courses and to provide a process to sidestep the Accuplacer assessment. He testified that this bill should focus on the community college level but not on the state university level.

Mr. Jesse Parrott, Student, MCC, Intern, State Rep Roberta Willis, Member of Connecticut National Guard:

He testified in favor of the bill, stating that when he came to Manchester Community College he had to take remedial courses and it made him “furious”. He doesn't feel that the remedial courses were necessary or markedly different from more advanced classes. During the remedial courses, he was disengaged in the class and toward the teacher.

Professor Rita Malenczyk, Professor of English, ECSU:

She testified and submitted testimony highlighting the success Eastern has had in creating a program called English 100Plus. This program has two dedicated undergrads as tutors, who also hold office hours. The program also has a lab component and is designed to integrate what would be learned in English 100, while fixing remedial gaps. Marsha Davis, a statistician at the campus has calculated that the program, in its ten years of being offered by the university, has a high success rate.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Dr. Leon Brin, Professor, Mathematics Department, SCSU:

The professor testified and provided testimony with a chart showing SAT scores and the number of students who would be placed in remedial courses. He identifies 38% of 2011 freshmen had SAT scores that would require remedial classes at SCSU. He cautions that without resources and new remediation models; the school would have to turn away these students and college professors would have to teach new materials while also addressing the needs of students who would have been in remedial classes. In his opinion, if remedial classes are not mandated by the school, remedial students will choose to bypass it.

Dr. Kevin Buterbaugh, Professor, Dept. of Political Science, SCSU:

Dr. Buterbaugh testified and submitted testimony in opposition to the bill. His belief is that passage of this bill would cause a whole host of negative consequences for students and universities: costing students more money to retake failed courses, negatively impacting students' transcripts, and affecting students' ability to get good jobs. He argues introductory classes have between 25 and 30 students in them; this would mean either the student with remedial needs would go unaddressed or it would change introductory classes to developmental classes.

Professor Sharon Gusky, Biology Professor, NWCCC:

The professor testified and submitted testimony in opposition to the bill. Professor Gusky commented on ability of their professors to bring up student's reading levels, by as much as, four grade levels to college readiness. Three years ago, they had a success rate of 28% and with their new integrated program, a success rate of 42%. In her view, remediation is a necessary step and allows some students to go to very prestigious school.

Mr. Thomas Hodgkin, Professor of English, NWCCC and Chairman of the Connecticut Community College Center for Training:

The professor submitted testimony in direct opposition to this bill. He states that this bill will cause great harm to universities and students. Professor Hodgkin testified that this bill assumes that college instructors have so much free time and energy that they can offer remedial support during regular classes. He stated that NWCC has been able to shorten the time students spend in remedial classes by a full semester.

Professor Julian Madison, Department of History, SCSU, Council Member, SCSU AAUP:

Testified in opposition to the bill and stated that remediation is needed because one course builds on another. In his testimony, he stresses better preparation of high school and middle school teachers, making sure certain curriculum is covered and rigorous enough in high school to provide a firm basis for college curriculum, and to allow professionals in various fields to be able to waive certification and teach high school courses.

Dr. Jason B. Jones, President, CCSU AAUP, Associate Professor of English, CCSU:

Testified and submitted testimony in opposition to this bill, noting a journal article by Paul Attewell in the Journal of Higher Education that shows high school preparation—and not college remediation is a better explanation of the high college dropout rate. Dr. Jones fears that, if the bill is passed, the college dropout rate will increase. In addition, it would burden professors and shift and strain university resources toward tutoring. Also he notes that other “simpler” models exist.

Ms. Jacqueline Perron, Student, UCONN:

Submitted testimony in opposition to the bill, explaining that as a student, passage of this bill would hinder the pace of classes, classroom discussions, curriculum able to be covered by the professor, and waste the time of prepared students who are paying tuition for a course.

Southern Connecticut State University, School of Health and Human Services:

This faculty group submitted written testimony with references. Because there would be a “time lag” to implement HB 5029 they do not support the intent of this bill. As a faculty, they cite several studies (including Attewell) that show college remediation courses are wrongly viewed as the obstacle to graduation, when in fact, secondary school preparation and a challenging course load in high school are more successful predictors of college graduation. They feel that passing this bill would be a “disservice” to students and ultimately create more obstacles.

Reported by: Todd M Szabo, Assistant Clerk

Date: March 16, 2012

 

Jeanie B. Phillips, Clerk