Developmental Education (PA 12-40)

In 2012, Public Act 12-40 (pdf) was passed directing public community colleges and state universities to reconfigure how remedial/ developmental education is delivered. It also requires public high schools to align their curriculum as described by the Common Core State Standards to ensure that graduates are ready for college level work.

About ConnSCU and PA 12-40

The Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (ConnSCU) are currently planning for implementation of Public Act 12-40 (pdf), which requires colleges to offer students remedial support embedded with corresponding entry-level courses, or an intensive college readiness program, beginning in 2014.
View Overview (pdf)

Tiered System of Instruction

In response to Public Act 12-40, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (ConnSCU) faculty is re-designing developmental education using a tiered system of instruction with three levels as described below.

  • College Level
    College-level instruction; a course numbered 100 or higher
  • Embedded Level
    College-level instruction with embedded developmental support designed for students with 12th grade skills (or close to that) who are approaching college readiness but require some remediation; college-level components must be numbered 100 or higher.
    Embedded Level FAQs
  • Intensive Level
    A single semester of developmental education or an intensive readiness experience for students below the 12th grade level; if structured as a course, must be numbered below 100.
    Intensive Level FAQs

In addition, institutions have joined together in four regional groups to devise strategies to address students who demonstrate significant gaps in skills levels or are unsuccessful in an initial attempt in an intensive-level offering.

  • Transitional Strategies
    Strategies for students with eighth grade skill levels or below developed by groups from colleges and universities in each geographical region of the state.
    Transitional Strategies FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Numerous questions have arisen as ConnSCU institutions undertake the curriculum re-design. Below please find answers to frequently asked questions provided by the Public Act 12-40 Advisory on the project.
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

This set of frequently asked questions was initially synthesized from questions received from regional strategies groups, disciplinary groups, and others. Answers were drafted by the Public Act 12-40 Advisory Group and forwarded to the Vice President of Community Colleges and Vice President of State Universities for consideration. The Vice Presidents approved this document (v01) on May 3, 2013; as additional policies and clarifications are developed in the course of implementing the law, the Frequently Answered Questions will be updated appropriately.

General Questions

1. Where should I go for help in interpreting PA 12-40?

Questions about PA 12-40 may be directed initially toward the academic affairs officer(s) on a campus. Those officers may consult with the BOR academic affairs office and/or the BOR VP for community colleges and BOR VP for state universities. The VPs are advised by the PA 12-40 Advisory Group and a group of campus Presidents. In some instances, the full Board must approve programs, such as the intensive college readiness experience.

2. Does PA 12-40 distinguish between "remedial" and "developmental" offerings?


3. How will class sizes and student-faculty ratios for courses with embedded support be determined?

Class sizes and student-faculty ratios are determined at the institution level.

4. Why are deaf and hearing-impaired students singled out in the legislation and why aren't students with other disabilities discussed?

The act requires BOR in consultation with the P20 Council to make recommendations about how provisions of PA 12-40 should apply to hearing impaired or deaf students. This provision was added during legislative deliberations. The justification for a narrow tailoring of this report toward students with a specific disability is not known, although BOR may include discussion of other special populations in its report.

5. Will students for whom English is a second language be subject to the rules regarding remediation?

The legislation is silent about English as a Second Language. Since these courses are language learning classes directed at speakers of languages other than English, they are not considered remedial in nature and not covered by provisions of the law.

6. What does it mean for a course to be "college level"? Is Intermediate Algebra at the community colleges considered college level even though state universities do not grant general education credit for it?

Any 100 level course or higher is a college-level course. The law does not make provision for what courses may count toward general education or not. Credits awarded for courses remain under the purview of the faculty at a campus.

7. How will levels of achievement for each level of remedial/developmental education be determined? Will students be allowed to "shop" for the easiest entry requirements?

The single semester of remediation or intensive college experience is open to any student without demonstrating a proficiency level. The outcomes of each level of developmental education should be equivalent regardless of the institution at which the students participate in the instruction.

Embedded Level: College-level Instruction with Embedded Support

1. What are the parameters for college-level courses with embedded remedial support?

The following parameters have been established and others may emerge

  • These courses will have the same learning outcomes as college-level English and math courses without embedded support.
  • All institutions will have common outcomes for these courses.
  • Courses may include additional contact, billing, and/or credit hours.
  • Credits assigned to embedded components remain under the purview of faculty on a campus.
2. Will individual colleges be able to design their own courses/programs for college-level courses with embedded remedial support?

Yes. That said, both the community colleges and the state universities have applied for and received funding from the BOR to develop these courses in a collaborative manner, with common outcomes.

3. What level of competency should students entering a college-level course with embedded support demonstrate?

Community colleges and state universities have received funds for developing these offerings with common outcomes and common competencies for placement. Initial estimates are that students who have skills in the 11th or 12th grade range would be candidates for college-level courses with embedded support.

4. Does "entry level" include all disciplines or just English and mathematics for embedded instruction?

Entry level includes just mathematics and English.

Intensive Level: The Intensive Readiness Experience and the Single Semester Developmental Course

1. Will individual colleges be able to design their own courses/programs for Embedded and Intensive Levels?

Yes, although one semester intensive-level offerings must be approved by the Board of Regents (section 1d). That said, both the community colleges and the universities have applied for and received funding from the BOR to develop these offerings in a collaborative manner.

2. What level of competency should a student entering an intensive level offering demonstrate?

The curriculum of intensive college readiness experience and the one semester of remedial support offerings must be at least at the secondary level (9th grade) to qualify to be eligible for students to receive federal financial aid for them. That said, the law does not bar a student who holds a high school diploma or equivalent but demonstrates competency below the 9th grade level from enrolling in one of these offerings.

3. Should a student who participates in the transitional strategies be prepared to enter college-level, embedded-level, or intensive-level offerings?

Most transitional strategies indicate students may enter and exit based on demonstration of competencies. Ideally, students would enter into a more formalized developmental education offering as soon as they demonstrate competencies that indicate they would be likely to succeed at that level.

4. Does "one semester of remedial support" apply to each subject (reading, writing, and math)? That is, does a student get one semester to remediate in each subject or do they all need to occur in the same semester?

Students get one semester for reading/writing and one semester for mathematics.

5. What is the form of the intensive readiness program? Is it a course or courses?

It is an instructional package with the same learning outcomes as the single semester developmental course but in a different format and/or timeframe. It may take place prior to the start of the semester and be computerized, customized, modular or accelerated. Funded by the College Access Challenge Grant, individual colleges will design the intensive readiness program in spring 2013, providing a more specific answer to this question.

6. Who, in particular, will develop the intensive readiness program?

Faculty at each institution will develop the curriculum at all levels.

7. Will there be one model or several options?

Several options.

8. PA 12-40 Section 1c indicates students must "complete such intensive college readiness program prior to receiving embedded remedial support." What does "complete" mean?

Successfully achieve the learning outcomes.

9. Section 1c indicates students must complete the "intensive college readiness program prior to receiving embedded remedial support." What does "prior" mean? Summer? Intersession? Previous semester?

Any of the above.

10. Section 1d allows for institutions to provide a "maximum of one semester of remedial support that is not embedded." What is the form of this remedial support? One course? A semester program? Will/can this support receive college credit? What does "advance . . . toward earning a degree" mean?

The remedial support can come in the form of an intensive developmental experience or a single course and will not receive credit toward graduation if below the 100 level. "Advance toward earning a degree" alludes to federal financial aid regulations and means that the course is aligned with subsequent courses in a program of study moving toward graduation.

11. Can students who need a semester of campus-based intensive remediation take other courses on campus while they are receiving that remediation, or would their conditional admission status preclude that?

Students in the "intensive readiness experience" or the single semester of developmental education can enroll in other courses unless barred by college prerequisite requirements. The law does not provide for conditional admission or change existing open access to community colleges.

12. If a student fails in the single semester of intensive remediation, may he or she retake it?

Students can repeat the single semester of developmental work as consistent with existing policy. This policy may be reviewed and reframed to make the repeat policy for developmental coursework consistent with federal financial aid guidelines for repeating a course.

Transitional (a.k.a. "Regional") Strategies

1. What are the transitional or "regional" strategies groups working to develop?

These groups were assembled to devise common approaches for the transitional level addressing students with very large gaps in skills - those estimated to have skills at the 8th grade level or below.

2. Would a student taking advantage of the transitional strategies (a.k.a. "regionally-developed strategies") be able to use the campus facilities?

Yes. Any student involved in a program on a given campus, including those in the "regional" remediation programs, can use that campus' facilities.

3. Where will the transitional strategies providing instruction that is below the level of the single developmental course or intensive readiness program be housed? Who will teach them? Who will pay for the program? Will financial aid be available for students?

Regional strategies represent approaches for learning support and instruction for students with the largest skill gaps. Campus faculty or staff will provide these at the discretion of the institution. Classes below the high school level cannot be included in the financial aid budget for federal student aid (Federal Student Aid Manual, 2012-13, 1-4). Programs will be offered at no cost to the student and these models are still under development and discussion. Students may receive federal financial aid for other qualifying coursework.

Placement and Advising

1. Will English and mathematics placements based on multiple measures be requirements or recommendations for students to follow?

Those who are near but not quite college-ready will be required to take gateway mathematics and English courses with embedded support. Students below that level will be required to take one semester of developmental education or the intensive readiness experience. For students at the eighth grade skill level or below, the regionally developed strategies will be recommended but not a requirement.

2. Who will determine the multiple measures for placement and level criteria?

The PA 12-40 Advisory Group with input from Deans of Students, CAOs and faculty groups will make a recommendation to the BOR on what the measures should be. Faculty groups such as CCET and Math Issues will make recommendations on placement levels to the PA 12-40 Advisory Group and those will be reviewed and a recommendation made to the Vice Presidents.

Convocation on Developmental Education

September 14, 2012
Central Connecticut State University - Alumni Hall - Student Center
View Agenda (pdf)

Welcome & Opening Remarks

David Levinson, Vice President for Connecticut Community Colleges, Board of Regents
Michael Meotti, Executive Vice President, Board of Regents
Watch Video

Overview of National Completion Reform Initiatives

Richard Kazis, Senior Vice President
Jobs for the Future
Watch Video

Thoughts on How to Embark on a Successful Developmental Education Reform Effort

Uri Treisman, Executive Director
The Charles A. Dana Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Watch Video

National Developmental Education Research and Models

Moderated by Lara Couturier Program Director, Jobs for the Future
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Examples of Developmental Education Reform in Practice

Moderated by Michael Collins Associate Vice President Postsecondary State Policy, Jobs for the Future
Watch Video