Developmental Education in Higher Education in Kentucky
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Development of System Assessment and Placement Policies


In 1998, the Council staff studied what high school students need to do to prepare for an advanced education. Chair Leonard Hardin appointed a group to guide staff on issues related to minimum admission policies. The group evaluated the effectiveness of the Pre-College Curriculum, explored the development of entry-level standards, and discussed policies for placing students in remedial and college-level courses.

Based on advice from the study group, the Council staff drafted its "Plan for Revising Minimum Admission Requirements" in October 1998. The plan included a recommendation to develop statewide standards for placing students in remedial courses. The Council approved the plan and a draft administrative regulation in November. The General Assembly's Administrative Regulations Subcommittee and the Interim Joint Committee on Education approved the regulation early in 1999.

The new administrative regulation, 13 KAR 2:020 Section 8 (1), directs the Council to adopt a systemwide policy that sets forth minimum standards for placement of a student in a college-level course. The regulation also requires institutions to adopt course placement policies that meet or exceed the minimum requirements established by the Council. Both the Council's and the institutions' policies will take effect fall 2000.

Recently, the Council staff distributed to the institutions and the Kentucky Department of Education a draft plan for implementing systemwide placement policies. The plan provides a framework for the Council's new mandatory placement policy and furnishes the guidelines necessary for institutions to develop their own policies. The plan supports several of the goals and priorities established in the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, 2020 Vision: An Agenda for Kentucky's System of Postsecondary Education, the Council's Action Agenda: 1999 - 2004, and The 1997-2002 Kentucky Plan for Equal Opportunities in Postsecondary Education. Each of these documents emphasizes the importance of expanding Kentuckians' access to postsecondary education, helping students advance smoothly through the system, and increasing the number of citizens who earn degrees, diplomas, and certificates from our colleges and universities. As more citizens enroll in postsecondary education, however, educators are likely to see more who are not prepared. Mandatory placement policies are intended to ensure that students receive the necessary remedial coursework.

The approach advocated in the draft plan emphasizes course placement based on achievementm not just the completion of specific courses. Three of 10 university students who complete the PCC in high school still have to enroll in at least one remedial course during their freshman year.

The National Association for Developmental Education passed a resolution in 1998 supporting policies that "require mandatory academic assessment of incoming students and mandatory placement of students into developmental courses or services as appropriate." The resolution was prompted, in part, by a national study published by the National Center for Developmental Education. The study tracked the academic performance of more than 6,000 students at 160 selected institutions. The findings showed that students had the greatest likelihood of completing their developmental courses when they were subject to mandatory testing and placement policies. Research also has shown that a student's success in remedial courses is correlated with later academic achievement as measured by cumulative grade point average and retention. The staff will present proposed systemwide assessment and placement politics to the Council at its September meeting. Council action will trigger the development of an administrative regulation. A four-to-six month review process will provide the opportunity for all interested parties to comment on the draft policy.

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