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Norcross, Moulton, Cox, and Craig Reintroduce Bill to Reshape Developmental Education, Boost College Completion

July 24th, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, reintroduced the Remedial Education Improvement Act to make remedial – commonly called developmental – education programs more effective, fair and less expensive. The Act would improve or develop programs based on five reform models that have a proven track record. It would implement these reforms, establish a competitive grant program and allow for the use of federal student aid dollars to support up to two years of developmental education. Norcross was joined by Representatives Seth Moulton (MA-06), TJ Cox (CA-21), Angie Craig (MN-02) and Andy Kim (NJ-03) in introducing the bill.

“Students that require extra training are not offered a fair shot right now and this bill provides a comprehensive strategy to change that,” said Congressman Donald Norcross. “We’re working to make developmental education more effective and less expensive, especially for students who may be the first in their family to ever attend college. Every student learns differently – for me, it was a technical training program that shaped my career, while one of my sons just got his MD. We’re all different types of learners and, as lawmakers, we must ensure we’re providing fair opportunities for all students to learn, succeed and end up with a degree and good-paying job.”

“Developmental education provides the foundations for successful performance in college,” said Don Borden, President of Camden County College. “By encouraging educators to redesign their course offerings, with a focus on student achievement, we can provide individualized instruction leading to greater retention and completion rates for all students. A bill that supports teachers utilizing research-based strategies to improve student learning can only result in positive outcomes.”

Developmental education programs provide pre-requisite skills needed to complete college courses and progress toward a degree. Although necessary, these programs make college take longer – and it’s therefore more costly. Remediation increases student debt load, while lessening the chance of degree completion. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the annual cost of remedial coursework is $7 billion.

“Too many students get into college but find out they have to pay for remedial classes that break the bank. This bill will help Congress study and scale up the most successful remedial education models so students can avoid taking on crushing debt as they build the foundational skills they need to succeed in college,” said Rep. Seth Moulton.

“We must ensure that students across our nation who need extra support are given an equal opportunity to learn and earn degrees,” said Rep. TJ Cox. “The Remedial Education Improvement Act would improve remedial education by making it more efficient and less expensive for students to reach completion and graduation. Students in my district would greatly benefit from these evidence-based support programs. I’m committed to working with my colleagues across the aisle to advance this important legislation.”

“Congress has a responsibility to invest in programs that help every student succeed,” said Rep. Angie Craig. “I am focused on bringing down the cost of college for students, especially those who may need pre-requisite courses before pursuing a post-secondary degree. Developmental education programs expand the kinds of educational opportunities available to young people and give every student a fair shot. I’m grateful to Rep. Norcross for his leadership on this critical issue.”

The legislation is supported by the Association of Community College Trustees and Knowledge Alliance.

“The Remedial Education Act devotes needed resources to new and scalable programs to reform remediation. Supporting these evidence-based reforms will help community colleges as they strive to serve the needs of a diverse student population. We thank Representatives Norcross, Moulton, Kim, Craig and Cox for their support of this important issue,” said J. Noah Brown, President and CEO of the Association of Community College Trustees.

“Knowledge Alliance supports the Remedial Education Improvement Act and its evidence-based approach to ensuring more students get to and through college,” said Michele McLaughlin, President, Knowledge Alliance.

About the Remedial Education Improvement Act

The Remedial Education Improvement Act would provide competitive grants to a geographically diverse set of colleges and universities of various sizes to develop or improve remedial education based on five models that have shown success during small-scale implementation. Aside from implementing evidence-based models to improve remediation, students in programs funded under this grant may also use federal student aid dollars to support up to two years of remediation, removing another barrier to on-time completion for remedial students. The legislation would also require evaluation of program effectiveness in order to determine the best systems of support that lead to college degree completion. The five program models outlined in the Act include:

  • Aligning Coursework: requires partnerships between colleges or universities, and local educational or state educational agencies to develop courses to prepare and support students before requiring remedial coursework at college.
  • Funds can also be used to provide early assessments to students on their college readiness and intervene before the students enter college.
  • Accelerated Coursework: courses are revised to allow either short, intensive remediation or enrollment in more than one sequential course per term.
  • Modular Instruction: focuses remediation on specific skills needed to be successful in college coursework and provides targeted interventions rather than course sequences.
  • Co-requisite Enrollment: provides concurrent classes that are offered to support students while enrolled in credit-bearing courses.
  • Systemic Reform: enables colleges and universities to implement comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based support programs across the institution that enable students enrolled in remedial education to reach completion and graduation.

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