Texas Register Preamble

We request more time to implement this requirement in a thoughtful and deliberate way which means having all the resources from the College Board available to us before we finalize placement protocols.

Response: The implementation date for the new TSI Assessment is not until the institution's first class day of fall 2013. Notwithstanding late registrants, almost all students tested for fall 2013 will use the four currently-approved assessment instruments, with application of all current policies and procedures. Institutions, therefore, have additional time to determine the best practices and policies in addressing the upcoming changes. Staff understands that these processes will be continuously evaluated and modified to meet students' needs.

ABE students - Our concern about a rushed implementation carries over to the initial steps taken by THECB to develop an operational plan to serve students with an ABE designation. Up to this point, the majority of the discussion from Dr. Suzanne Morales-Vale has been about funding for ABE students with an ABE designation. AC faculty and administrators believe that the ABE designation is an opportunity to use what we learned from implementing I-BEST and "I-BEST like" programs at AC over the last two years.

I-BEST programs are research-based and conspicuously absent from the "required components of developmental education programs" especially since THECB has awarded millions of dollars in grant funds and successful outcomes mirror those at community colleges around the country. Also, the TSI assessment will have a much needed diagnostic. AC needs an opportunity to work with the new assessment and College Board tools before a plan and rules are put forward for ABE students. AC implores THECB to do whatever it can to intervene on our behalf with our Texas legislators especially regarding further action on the proposed operational plan for ABE students.

Response: TSI rule, §4.62, Required Components of Developmental Education Programs, was based directly on HB 1244 and focused on the populations currently being identified and funded by THECB: college ready and developmental education. It is recognized that I-BEST models do address all required program components to various degrees. Staff understands the complexities in meeting the needs of a newly-identified group of students, those testing into the ABE levels. Therefore, the first year of implementation of the new TSI Assessment will be a "Transition Year," whereby institutions may continue to use structures and funding models currently in place to serve students testing into the ABE levels. Pursuant to Texas Education Code, §61.059(b-2), the Board may make recommendations regarding developmental education. During this Transition Year, however, we highly recommend that institutions form local task forces including all constituents with the campus and community (student services, technology, library services, institutional effectiveness, research, continuing education, workforce education, workforce solutions, adult literacy, community-based organizations, etc.) to determine what services are currently available and identify any gaps. During this year, staff will be asking institutional feedback and responses to inform any recommendations, guidelines, and policies that will be needed to best serve this population.

ESL students - AC supports the waiver for ESL students because the new TSI assessment is not an ESL instrument. We are pleased that we will be able to use research-based practices to properly assess the needs of our ESL students. We have concerns about the 15-hour limit on this waiver. THECB has not put forth any research or data on how it came to the 15-hour limit. There is very little information about ESL delivery in community colleges. The inclusion of ESL in the DE plan is a great step. We propose that THECB actually implements its plan for ESL research and data collection before moving forward with substantive rule making for ESL students. ESL and DE students are considered a homogenous group for DE rule-making purposes and this concerns us greatly. English proficiency is indeed a college readiness issue. However, it has a completely different body of research. We have been told that 19 TAC §4.62 includes ESL. However, this is not explicitly stated in the rules. We request that ESL programs are exempt from the NCBO requirement for ESL as it contradicts the testing waiver. We received guidance from THECB that the only way an institution can receive NCBO funding for ESL is by requiring ESL students to take the new TSI assessment. Again, this contradicts the intent of the waiver. The practical guidance on reporting and funding eligibility for NCBOs for ESL students should be stated more explicitly into the rules or removed until more research is gathered on this population. AC supports the latter.

Response: Recognizing "ESOL" and "ESL" are sometimes used interchangeably, funded developmental education courses apply only to ESOL courses as described in the Academic Course Guide Manual. The proposed ESOL Waiver is not mandatory but an option available to serve students with limited English proficiency who would benefit from remediation prior to taking the TSI Assessment. The 15-hour limit provides opportunity for additional coursework, if necessary, without exceeding the maximum funded developmental education hours allowed by TSI statute. Non-course competency-based options (NCBOs) are designed to serve students who may be near college-ready; we do not want to remove the NCBO option for those colleges and universities serving ESOL students who are near college ready, as demonstrated either by TSI Assessment results and/or performance in ESOL coursework.

Integrated Reading and Writing - 19 TAC §4.62(b).

(b) As part of subsection (a)(2) of this section, institutions shall offer Integrated Reading and Writing (IRW) course/ intervention at the highest level (just below college-readiness as determined by the institution) by spring 2015.

AC supports offering an IRW course for students who need both reading and writing. It is a very valid way of moving students through developmental education quickly. However, if we look at the students who need both reading and writing at our campus over FA 2011, SP 2012 and FA 2012, an average of 42% of the students need both reading and writing. These are students who tested on the ACCUPLACER and were enrolled at Amarillo College.

The New TSI Assessment is a reading and writing assessment not an IRW assessment. In order to effectively transition to an IRW mandate, the new TSI assessment should become an IRW assessment. The lack of alignment between the required components and the mandatory assessment is troubling. It makes it harder for us to serve students not easier. Students have been assessed on their skills needed for reading and writing. If a student doesn't need reading or writing, why should he spend valuable time working on a skill he doesn't need? He should spend his time working on the skill the assessment deems him not college-ready. If the student concentrates on only the skills he is lacking, he can move through developmental much faster. The requirement that a student must complete the IRW course when college ready - or close to college ready - in either reading or writing contradicts the overall intent of the DE reform to accelerate student completion of the developmental education course sequence. If a student barely misses the cut score in reading, a short-term may be more appropriate than an entire semester length course. AC has been successful in helping students near the cut score achieve college readiness in a few weeks. Students are free to enroll in a gateway intensive reading course and earn college credit in the same semester. Under the proposed plan for IRW implementation, these students will have to take a course and be held back in earning college credit in the area that they are ready. The IRW requirement should only apply to students that are deficient in both reading and writing. The new TSI rules do not address these types of situations for students and do not explicitly provide us with the latitude to determine which students are best suited for an IRW course. The IRW requirement is a blanket requirement for all circumstances and conflicts with other goals evident in the TSI rule changes. Finally, THECB staff has presented at conferences, regional meetings, and webinars since January 2012 under the premise that authority to require IRW was already in place. The presence of IRW rules after a year of webinars and trainings comes as a surprise. Under what authority was THECB operating when discussing this requirement with institutions over the last year? AC appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed TSI rules. We will be watching how the rules progress through the remainder of the process and welcome the opportunity to engage THECB staff in further discussion about our response.

Response: Staff is researching the viability of an integrated reading and writing assessment as part of the TSI program. Institutions may still use NCBOs as an option to address specific student deficits in reading, writing, or both. Texas Education Code, §51.3062(i)(3) grants authority to THECB to implement required program components for developmental education.

Comment 9: Comment from El Paso Community College. The only comment I have on this is the same I have always had. We should not even be a part of this since learners of a foreign language (ESOL) are not in any way Developmental Education students and should never have been considered such; the designation needs to be recognized for what it is.

Response: Higher education funding mechanisms for developmental education are determined by the Texas Legislature. Staff will take this comment under advisement.

The amendments are adopted under Texas Education Code, §51.3062, which provides the Coordinating Board with the authority to establish policies and procedures relating to the TSI, and §51.307, which provides the Coordinating Board with the authority to adopt and publish rules and regulations to effectuate the provisions of Chapter 51, Subchapter F of the Texas Education Code.

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