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Reports from Policy Analysts

Kansas and Developmental Education

Submitted On: Monday, May 5, 2014

Analyst: Fitzpatrick, Maureen

In 2012, the Kansas legislature passed the following conditions on the funding of developmental classes offered at college. The new funding initiative is scheduled to take effect August 15, 2015. Beginning on that date, no funds "appropriated from the state general fund for any state university shall be expended for the purposes of providing developmental courses in the area of mathematics or language arts." The revised policy allows exceptions for students who are over 21, in the military or a non-native speaker. The state policy defined education thus:

"Developmental education includes courses in all fields of study that are designed to increase the likelihood of student success at the entry level of a certificate or degree program.  Developmental education programs include activities that address subject matter remediation, development of competencies, and change of attitudes toward learning.  The content of developmental education courses is at a level below that normally included in the first and second year college-level curricula."

The funding portion of this policy has not yet been activated. The Kansas Board of Regents has called for and is supporting the work of a working group composed of faculty from 10 community colleges, 3 technical colleges and 3 universities to study issues surrounding developmental education in the state and to make recommendations. The groups report is due this June.

The creation of the working group and the completion of the anticipated report are both positive outcomes stemming from legislation that threatened to undermine developmental education and the students who need the support those courses offer them. Much will depend, of course, of how the recommendations of this well-informed group are modified as they are passed up the Board of Regents food chain. If the Board continues to utilize the wealth of first-hand experience they have in the community college and technical school faculty, the working group's efforts could move the state forward toward current and cohesive improvements that will support our students. Unfortunately, the funding cuts will begin to take effect just 14 months after the first report is due.

One other note: although they specify mathematics and language arts in the policy, the definition of "developmental education" is written broadly enough that it might be interpreted to include general college success courses. Should anyone challenge the funding of those courses, the issue will be whether a general study skills course is or is not content "below that normally included in the first and second year college-level curricula."

Academic Level

Higher Education



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