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The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB or Board) adopts amendments to §§4.53, 4.54, 4.58, and 4.59, concerning the Texas Success Initiative, without changes to the proposed text as published in the May 16, 2014, issue of the Texas Register (39 TexReg 3799). Specifically, these amendments will add a new definition, add qualifications for mathematics college readiness, add a component to the plan for academic success, allow for pathway-specific college readiness in mathematics; and will add language to comply with Texas Education Code, §51.3062(q-2), regarding exemptions provided to students who successfully complete the college preparatory course described under Texas Education Code, §28.014; define the period of the exemption to the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) and the manner in which the exemption should be applied to an institution of higher education other than the institution that partnered to develop the college preparatory course. In addition, Senate Bill 215, 83rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session, called for the Board to engage institutions of higher education in a negotiated rulemaking process as described in Subchapter 2008, Government Code in the development of such rules. The amendments to the rules proposed for this section were reviewed and approved by the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on the Texas Success Initiative on April 2, 2014, and by the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Exemptions relating to House Bill 5 College Preparatory Courses on April 16, 2014. The following comments were received regarding the amendments concerning §4.53, Definitions; §4.54, Exemptions, Exceptions, and Waivers; §4.58, Advisement and Plan for Academic Success; and §4.59, Determination of Readiness to Perform Freshman-Level Academic Coursework. Comment: The suggested revision from Brian Gottardy, Texas School Alliance, was to consider the following: students who are unable to successfully complete MATH 1332/1342/1442 should have the opportunity, if their academic plans change and they wish to take Algebra intensive courses, to enroll in those courses without additional delay caused by non-credit-bearing "preparatory" coursework. It seems more appropriate to allow students to move on with a concurrent intervention. Response: The proposed rule changes do allow for a concurrent intervention as suggested in the TSA proposed solution and do not preclude an institution from requiring such a concurrent intervention. Holistic advising (19 TAC §4.55) allows an institution to use multiple factors, including consideration of prior academic coursework, when assessing and placing students. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the institution of higher education to determine the intervention that best suits each student's particular needs and academic goals. No additional changes were made as a result of this comment. Comment: Constance Elko, Austin Community College, expressed concerns regarding the proposed amendment to 19 TAC §4.59(d): "My concern is that two levels of TSI complete for math will make the system quite cumbersome to keep accurate. Every time a student changes their major they may change their TSI status. Students would easily go from being TSI complete to being not TSI complete. That is very difficult to explain to a student. I thought that part of the intention of the new TSIA was to have a single standard. It would be much easier to administrate and explain TSI rules to students if there was a single standard for being TSI complete the minimum TSIA score of 350, but that colleges could set a higher standard for getting into College Algebra MATH 1314/1414 or Finite Mathematics MATH 1324. Texas had done this when TASP was first used - 230 was complete but a 270 was needed for College Algebra. One of the major strengths of Pathways such as Statway or the New Mathways Project StatPath is that the student has to complete the developmental and the credit course to be TSI complete in math. That means that the students plan to complete the credit course. One of the main issues colleges have is that many students who become TSI complete just do not take the math credit course. Many more students would complete the math credit requirement successfully if we could just get them to take the credit course as soon as they complete the developmental. Building Pathways that does this is really in the best interest of students. If we allow these Pathways to make the student TSI complete before they take the credit course, we will face the same situation of delay, forgetting and then being unsuccessful in the math credit course." Response: Austin Community College, as well as many other colleges and universities, are currently using the strategy of conferring college readiness after students successfully complete the college level course in the pathway. The purpose of this proposed amendment to 19 TAC §4.59, is to give institutions the opportunity to choose an alternative strategy that best addresses the needs of their students, but not to mandate any particular strategy. The amendment to 19 TAC §4.58 ensures that institutions clearly inform students of the consequences of selecting a specific mathematic pathway model. The Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Texas Success Initiative recommended unanimously that institutions be given the flexibility to designate two separate college readiness indicators for mathematics based on holistic advising protocols that include considerations for students' chosen career paths. However, institutions are not required to have separate college ready indicators for mathematics. It is the sole discretion of the institution to continue conferring TSI status as it currently does. Colleges, with feedback from their faculty, should make these decisions. Requiring students to enroll in the college-credit course immediately after successful completion of the developmental course or intervention remains an institutional decision. No additional changes were made as a result of this comment. Comment: The comment from Nancy Long, Trinity Valley Community College, expressed concerns regarding college readiness for students enrolled in mathematics pathways: "(1) College Algebra was never designed to ready students for Calculus. STEM students should have already completed four years of high school mathematics - including two years of algebra, one year of geometry, and one year of pre-calculus (including at least one-half year of trigonometry). Most STEM students should already have had high school calculus or AP Calculus or college level Calculus concurrent with their high school curriculum. There are students who decide later to pursue a field of study involving STEM courses, and they do typically begin with College Algebra, but it is not designed for STEM students. It is designed to cover general education skills required to make a student competent in mathematics. As with all general education requirements, some find it difficult to study topics that are not immediately obvious to them as being relevant to their field. These topics are nevertheless relevant to being a well-rounded, educated individual capable of handling formulas, calculations, logical inferences, and of being able to communicate about those topics. College Algebra is not intended for STEM majors. STEM majors who start with College Algebra are far behind and will certainly need more than 120 semester hours of college level coursework to complete their degrees. (2) Allowing colleges to mark students TSI Math Complete for Non-Algebraic Intensive Studies will provide a path of least resistance for students who I believe should become minimally proficient in algebra. My Registrar has already indicated that once a student is TSI Complete in Math, no course will be blocked for them. Since colleges would have to implement more rules and courses, that they are not required to implement, they won't do so. We'll be back to trying to teach students who have never learned basic algebraic methods. By the way, they need the logical skills and approaches included in College Algebra in other completely separate fields. They need to learn to approach a non-algebra problem by identifying the problem, choosing an approach, recalling the rules of the situation, dividing the problem into parts that can be tackled independently or sequentially, writing out their solution in step-by-step sequential fashion, and draw a logical conclusion and support the reasons for it. (3) Trying to teach Contemporary Mathematics or Statistics without the student being able to solve quadratic equations, radical equations, and logarithmic equations eliminates most applications, empirical and quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking from those courses. Since algebra is the language of mathematics, it also eliminates the communication CORE Objective from these courses." Response: It is the decision of the institution to determine whether or not it offers a mathematics pathway model that considers the students' degree plan and career options when recommending courses and interventions for students not college ready in mathematics. If an institution believes that a pathway model for mathematics is not in the best interest of its students, then the institution can continue to provide the options it currently offers for its students. The proposed amendment to the rules does not require an institution to make any changes to its current programs. The purpose of these rule changes is to give institutions the opportunity to choose an alternative strategy if that makes sense for their students, but not to mandate which strategy they select. No additional changes were made as a result of this comment. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board also received five comments in support of mathematics pathway models and the amendments to the rules that allow the institution to classify students as having met Texas Success Initiative requirements based on their chosen pathway. (Mike Turpin, Kilgore College; Aaron Graczyk, Brazosport College; Ed McCraw, Paris Junior College; Bradly Johnson, Northeast Texas Community College; and Barbara Buchanan, Paris Junior College) The following comments were received regarding the amendments specifically concerning §4.54, Exemptions, Exceptions, and Waivers. Comment: The suggested revision, received from Brian Gottardy, Texas School Alliance (TSA) and Amy Beneski, Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), was to consider extending the exemption period beyond the proposed twelve months in order to align with the exemption periods provided in other board rules and to accommodate students unable to pursue postsecondary work within twelve months of graduation. Response: The rules related to the Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.014, College Preparatory Course, as authorized by House Bill (HB) 5 (83rd Legislative Session), were the result of negotiation among representatives from community colleges, universities, and public education entities, which comprised the Negotiated Rule-making Committee on Exemptions Relating to HB 5 College Prep Courses (CPC NRMC) (April 16, 2014). The committee was unanimous in its decision that a twelve-month exemption period was appropriate until and unless longitudinal data indicated that student success rates would warrant a longer exemption period. It also agreed that the THECB's regular cycle of rule review and revision (every four years) was a sufficient provision for revisiting the exemption period. The Committee does not agree with the suggested revision because the proposed twelve-month exemption period reflected in 19 TAC §4.54(a)(10), takes into consideration that the College Preparatory Courses are newly developed and, unlike specified assessments (i.e., SAT, ACT, TSI Assessment) with longer exemption periods, lack validation data ensuring certain performance measures correlate with standards of readiness. As this exemption rests on locally developed courses with variations in expectations and performance measures without current data to validate their effect on readiness, it is imprudent to establish at this time a lengthy period of exemption. A twelve-month period of exemption would allow for a gap-year or the early completion of a preparatory course. No additional changes were made as a result of this comment. Comment: Brian Gottardy, Texas School Alliance (TSA), suggested considering establishing a statewide agreement that authorizes reciprocity of the exemption among all institutions of higher education that sign into the agreement and make a list accessible to the public so students, families, and high school counselors can determine where the course completion is recognized for TSI exemption purposes. Response: The Committee agrees with the suggestion since there is nothing in the rules as proposed which would prohibit the development of a memorandum of understanding among multiple higher education institutions establishing the reciprocity of their college preparatory course exemption. There is no prohibition on making such agreements public. While it is expected that the first line of communication to students and parents regarding the applicability of a student's TSI exemption would be through the high school providing the course, the committee fully supports making memorandums of understanding publicly available online. No additional changes were made as a result of this comment. Comment: The suggested revision from Carlos E. Martinez, The University of Texas at Austin, was the following. "The exemption proposed in §4.54(a)(10) is too limiting. While §51.3062(q-2), Texas Education Code provides authority for the THECB to adopt a rule that applies an exemption at the institution that partners with the school district, it also grants the Commissioner authority to apply the exemption to institutions of higher education other than the partnering institution. We believe the twelve month exemption for students who successfully complete college preparatory courses with respect to the content area of the course should apply to any public institution rather than only to that institution that partners with a school district. This expansion is one that the Legislature considered and granted authority to the Commissioner to exercise, and which we encourage here." Response: The Committee does not agree with the suggested revision because the proposed twelve-month exemption period and applicability to the partnering institution reflected in 19 TAC §4.54(a)(10) takes into consideration that the College Preparatory Courses are newly developed and, unlike specified assessments (i.e., SAT, ACT, TSI Assessment) with longer exemption periods, lack validation data ensuring certain performance measures correlate with standards of readiness. As this exemption rests on locally developed courses with variations in expectations and performance measures without current data to validate their effect on readiness, it is imprudent to establish a lengthy period of exemption. A twelve-month period of exemption would allow for a gap-year or the early completion of a preparatory course. The statute, as developed by the 83rd Legislature, limits the applicability of the exemption to the partnering higher education institution, and defers to the expertise of the commissioner in determining the advisability of broadening the applicability of the exemption. The commissioner sought consensus from a broad spectrum of stakeholders who determined that the Legislature's initial determination was the most prudent. As stated previously, however, there is nothing in the rules as proposed which would prohibit the development of multiple higher education institutions establishing the reciprocity of their college preparatory course exemption. The committee was unanimous in its decision that a twelve-month exemption period and applicability to the partnering institution were appropriate until and unless longitudinal data indicated that student success rates would warrant a longer exemption period. It also agreed that the THECB's regular cycle of rule review and revision (every four years) was a sufficient provision for revisiting the exemption period. No additional changes were made as a result of this comment. Comment: The comment from Lynn Parks, Baylor University, relates to the applicability of the proposed rules to Early College High Schools as follows. "Would this have applicability to Early College High Schools? I'm trying to figure out when students going into an ECHS would be TSI tested and what would happen if they didn't pass the TSI. Assuming that ECHS college courses begin in 9th grade, wouldn't incoming students be given the TSI at the end of 8th grade? In that case, there will probably be a significant population that doesn't pass all portions of the TSI. Suppose an ECHS student fails the math portion of the TSI. If a local two-year college then provided a remedial math course (say, DMTH 0200), and the ECHS student took and passed the course, he or she would then be okay to proceed with their college math course and other associate's degree program courses - right?" Response: Yes, the proposed rule is applicable to all public high students graduating under the new foundation plan including students enrolled in Early College High Schools. Issues related to the remainder of the comment are not affected by the proposed rule. Like public high school students, students enrolled in Early College High Schools must demonstrate college readiness as defined by TSI prior to enrolling in a college level courses. 19 TAC §9.146(a) prohibits institutions of higher education from offering funded developmental education (i.e., remedial) coursework in high schools. While a high school student may enroll in a non-funded developmental (remedial) course, the course would not provide an exemption from TSI or qualification for college-level coursework. No additional changes were made as a result of this comment. The amendments are adopted under the Texas Education Code §51.307, which provides the Coordinating Board with the authority to adopt rules to implement the provisions of Texas Education Code §51.3062, concerning the Success Initiative, and under Texas Education Code §51.3062(q-2), which requires the commissioner of higher education to make rules regarding the period of the exemption outlined in the same subsection. The amendments affect Texas Education Code §51.3062. |
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