In May 2014, Minnesota State's System Office announced that students will no
longer receive federal financial aid for their developmental classes that
cannot be proven to have high
school (as opposed to junior high/middle school) content. Each department at each two-year college must file its
own appeal to prove high school content for some or all of its developmental course(s).
Here are (1) useful links and (2) a Q and A
MNSCU'S "UPDATE ON DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATION (5-23-14)"
MN High School
Writing Standards, 3-p. copied version (pp. 63-65 of Minnesota Academic Standards—English
Language Arts K-12 2010)
Academic Standards—English Language Arts K-12 2010, 90-page
(This is the document used by MnSCU to determine the "List
A" and "List B" developmental courses scheduled to lose financial aid.)
Other lists and summaries of skills from the Minn. Dept. of Education:
Higher-Dev. Writing (Inver
by Two College Presidents (IHCC, RCTC) re Dev. Ed. Problem
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Questions are in bold;
I have made every attempt to keep this Q-&-A section as factual as
possible. It has been
developed by quoting and paraphrasing faculty and others (with names
removed) from several MnSCU two-year
colleges and two MnSCU documents. If you would like to add supporting documents or
details, please send them.
MnSCU says, according to its document above, that it was determined in
early May that some students in our two-year colleges may have
developmental level courses with primarily below-high school content.
Federal guidelines state that students in such courses are ineligible for
federal financial aid. As one faculty member says, MnSCU then "ordered all colleges to drop such courses." MnSCU has labeled the courses
to be dropped as “A List” and "B List" courses.
“A List” courses
were dropped immediately from summer federal financial aid; they include mostly
lower-developmental Reading, Writing, and Math, were immediately declared
ineligible for federal financial aid. “B List” courses, mostly higher-developmental,
will be dropped from fall financial aid. However, both "A List" and
"B List" courses can, said MnSCU, be justified by Aug. 1 by their
departments as having high school content, and these justifications will
be reviewed by MnSCU for acceptance and return of financial aid. A third
set of developmental courses are exempt from this ban of federal aid: they
include, one administrator said, ESL/NNS/EAP developmental courses, and
developmental courses required for certificates.
made this decision and how? This determination came from MnSCU and was
not sent to other schools outside of the MnSCU system. MnSCU sent an email
about the decision to each college May 22. Another faculty member at a second school
reported she saw a
copy of part of the initial letter, and it was sent to her college
president. The letter came from Karen Hynick,
who is the MnSCU Director of College Transition
at the system office.
to this faculty member, the Web PDF document
Academic Standards—English Language Arts K-12 2010
(90 pp.) is what “the system office used to examine our courses based on
whatever Karen Hynick could find about our courses on our college
websites. There was no formal rubric or score card used because there was
not enough time to create one. Once the list of courses to be discontinued
[from federal aid] immediately was created (the A List), someone else from the system office
reviewed the same courses using the same method. If she questioned a
course that was on the A List, she moved it to the B List, which includes
the courses that need to be reviewed by August 1.” All 2-yr. colleges now
have this Aug. 1 deadline to justify both "A" and "B List" courses for the
this loss of financial aid not desirable? A third faculty member
from a third school says
her department “sees this as…shutting out the most disadvantaged and
vulnerable students from higher ed.…” An additional problem is that the cancellation of
lower-developmental courses for lack of numbers could force
lower-developmental students into higher-developmental courses—a
one-course-fits-all paradigm—with a much wider range of needs. Other faculty have noted in the past that
with more barriers to poor students in developmental education, especially
outside the metro area, some
students might be forced to take off-campus preparatory courses
dozens of miles away from their homes and/or for fees they can’t pay.
Currently, still other faculty members note that with fewer developmental
courses, some faculty may be laid off.
Who is in
the most trouble?
It would appear at present that the lowest
level developmental math courses may be the more likely to need change of
some kind. Most lower- and higher-developmental writing and reading
courses (and higher dev. math courses) may comfortably fall within high
the change happening now?
Someone noted that the overseeing federal agency for federal
financial aid can determine on its own that schools are not in compliance
with the law and then require the schools to pay a financial penalty.
For this reason, meeting compliance standards as quickly as possible is in MnSCU's--and its schools'--best financial interests.
the changes being instituted right now? Reports from different
schools vary. At least two schools appear to have dropped "A List"
courses from their summer offerings. Another school has kept them and said
it will cover students' financial aid in those courses. Some early
official justifications sent to MnSCU by departments have already been
successfully accepted by MnSCU.
How do we
prove high-school level content?
Each school’s affected departments must justify the high school level content
of any course(s) they want to keep. The tendency
at present among reporting schools seems to be to quote and paraphrase the
document used by MnSCU to create the “A List” and the “B List.”
community college faculty members' union has pointed out that if any
catalog descriptions or official course outline changes are to be made,
they must follow the normal procedure of taking the course to the school's
Academic Council. Changes to such courses can be modeled after those of
other two-year MnSCU schools or of Minnesota universities' under-prepared
writer courses (some of which offer college-level credit); and/or from the
Minnesota Academic Standards for grades 9-12.