HB 12-1155: Improvements in College Completion (Senate Education Committee)
House Bill 12-1155
Testimony to the Senate Education Committee
Frank Waterous, Senior Policy Analyst
May 3, 2012
My name is Frank Waterous, and I am a senior policy analyst with the Bell Policy Center. The Bell is a non-partisan, non-profit research and policy organization, founded on progressive values and dedicated to expanding opportunity for all Coloradans.
The Bell Policy Center supports House Bill 12-1155, "Improvements in College Completion." To be clear, our position on the bill has changed from "Amend" when it was being considered by the House, based on that chamber's removal of provisions that would have reduced students' lifetime eligibility for College Opportunity Fund stipends and need-based financial aid. With those elements no longer part of the bill, we are now able to fully support this excellent legislation.
HB 1155 continues to include several key provisions that we believe will contribute to increased post-secondary student success in Colorado.
First, the bill's focus on clarifying and aligning the state's basic-skills and admissions policies is an important step forward. Within this area, we especially support the idea of differentiating basic-skills mathematics requirements based on the student's intended program of study. For too many students, being required to demonstrate a mathematics proficiency that is neither associated with nor necessary for their career path is a significant barrier to post-secondary success, and we welcome this change.
Second, the bill's requirement that data on students' post-secondary enrollment, placement, persistence and completion be provided to the school districts from which they graduated is very positive, and one that we wholeheartedly support. This sharing of data will assist Colorado in achieving our ongoing P-20 education alignment goals, and will bolster school districts' ability to implement data-driven continuous-improvement efforts that will ensure that more students are prepared for post-secondary success.
Third, we believe that the concept of "supplemental academic instruction" contained in the bill is consistent with best practices identified in the research regarding the value of allowing students to address limited academic deficiencies while continuing to make progress in college-level coursework. Helping qualified students get the additional academic support they need without being required to take a full basic-skills course draws on the important instructional concepts of modularization and contextualization and will contribute to improved college completion.
There remains only one small change that we would ask you and the sponsor to consider in order to further strengthen this legislation. Although the bill makes clear that basic-skills credits and supplemental academic instruction credits would serve the same important purpose, and both would be COF-stipend-eligible, only basic-skills credits would not count against a student's lifetime COF limit based on current statute. We believe that this inconsistency should be corrected in the bill and that supplemental academic instruction credits also should not count against the student's lifetime COF limit. This is important because the lack of such an exemption could unintentionally dissuade students from wanting to take these credits, thereby keeping them from receiving the additional instruction they need for academic success.
In closing, though, let me restate that the Bell Policy Center believes that several of the provisions in House Bill 12-1155 will significantly increase post-secondary student success in our state. We urge you to support the bill, we thank Senator Bacon for bringing it to you today, and we thank the committee for the opportunity to share our testimony. If you have any questions, or if I can provide further information, please call me at 303-297-0456 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.