"As educators, we have to make the commitment to a very simple proposition: if we admit students to college, we should do everything possible to make sure they succeed. These remarks are not an indictment but a rallying call. We can do much better."
With these words, Dr. Raymund Paredes, Texas commissioner of higher education, opened the May 3, 2010, Colloquium on State Policy Support for Developmental Education Innovation, a powerful example of the conversations that states and community colleges must have to accelerate the creation and scale-up of new ways to dramatically improve outcomes for students who test into developmental education.
The Rallying Call summarizes the discussions at a May 2010 colloquium, hosted by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Association of Community Colleges, and JFF. It brought together representatives from some of the state’s most innovative colleges to discuss the state policies needed to support more effective developmental education programs.
In spurring and supporting community college innovation around developmental education, state policy represents a critical driver, and community college leaders recognize the strategic interaction between state policy and their own innovative efforts. Dr. Rey Garcia, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, immediately responded to Commissioner Paredes’ rallying call: “I accept the challenge that the commissioner gave us. The college presidents accept that challenge and we will work together to find solutions.”
With those words, Commissioner Paredes and Dr. Garcia set a tone of high expectations for a daylong meeting of developmental education professionals that was honest about the issues, focused on results, and committed to the success of Texas students.
Far too many students enter higher education without the reading, writing, and math skills they need to succeed in college. In Texas, only 22 percent of high school graduates are ready for college. For many reasons, a number of developmental education programs are not very effective, even though they are specifically designed to prepare entering college students who are not yet ready for postsecondary education. The results are both clear and devastating: far too many students never complete college at a time when they need more than basic skills to support themselves and their families, and when the nation needs them to be highly skilled for the good of the economy. College completion rates for low-income students and students of color are disproportionately low, thereby worsening existing gaps in educational achievement and socioeconomic status.