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Thursday, April 27, 2017
A Developmental Education Overhaul in Texas

By Texas State Representative Helen Giddings

Helen GiddingsOne of the great inequities across this country is the preparation of our young people for higher education. Underfunded schools, unavoidable family obligations, and economic hardship have made quality college readiness nearly impossible for many students.

Remedial education, or “developmental education” as it’s called in Texas, has been the proposed solution to this systemic problem. These programs, typically offered at community colleges, are designed to confront the areas of struggle and fill in gaps in readiness, whether that be algebra or reading comprehension.

In Texas, and throughout the country, these programs have too often been well-intentioned but unsuccessful endeavors. Instead of bridges to success, they’ve been financial roadblocks. Some Texas students enroll in up to 27 hours of developmental education without earning a single college credit, spending tuition and financial aid dollars with nothing.

Along with State Representative James White, I filed HB 2223 to reverse our failed trend and overhaul our developmental education system.

Despite many unsuccessful remedial programs, the isolated areas of success share a common strategy: the corequisite system.

Under this model, students enroll simultaneously in a remedial and a gateway course of the same subject matter- quickly and efficiently confronting their shortcomings. Students receive genuine supports for their classes, without having to invest time and money before even enrolling in credit bearing courses.

The corequisite model has a track record of transformative success. In Tennessee, students completing a gateway math course went from 12.3% of enrollees to 55%. In Colorado, reforms resulted in rates improving from 31% to 64%. In Texas today, only 9 percent of students enrolled in developmental education math complete a first-level math course.

With the passage of HB 2223, Texas developmental education students will be enrolled in a system that works. They will be able to receive the supports they need without breaking the bank. The time has long past that we confront this great disparity for our underserved students. We must give them the future they need and deserve.

Helen Giddings represents District 109 which includes Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Lancaster, Wilmer, Hutchins, and portions of Glenn Heights and Oak Cliff.

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