Background :: The Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative
A December, 2005 publication, “Policy Brief on Access,” by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) found that 60% of TBR students required at least one developmental studies course. This rate exceeded national estimates of 28% of first-time college students. The issue was more profound at two-year community colleges where 74% required some level of developmental education. The high percentage of students in developmental studies had become a significant cost issue for both the TBR systems and students enrolled at its institutions. Approximately $25 million per year is spent on developmental studies courses with the costs being covered evenly between the TBR system and through tuition paid by students enrolled in developmental studies courses. Costs to students ranged from over $1,300 for two developmental studies courses over a single term to over $4,100 for a student requiring a full year of developmental studies courses.
Before the Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative, developmental studies had been taught in much the same way for the past 20 years through 16-week courses at three different levels — "basic remedial", "basic developmental" and "intermediate developmental." Students would be placed into one of these three levels for reading and/or mathematics. This system provided little opportunity to accelerate their learning through these levels by focusing on the specific course concepts in which they were academically deficient. As a result, students were required to review course content that they had mastered.
The Tennessee Board of Regents recognized that the current developmental studies system served a high percentage of students, was a financial drain on students and institutions and did not effectively move students onto college-level coursework in a timely fashion.
The Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative
In October, 2006, The Tennessee Board of Regents and the Education Commission of the states received a three-year grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) at the U.S. Department of Education to implement the Academic Preparation Initiative, also known as the Developmental Studies Redesign Project. The project seeks to broaden access and success, and create a more affordable system of higher education for students by developing and implementing a more efficient delivery and assessment system to ensure college readiness through a comprehensive design of Tennessee Board of Regents developmental studies programs.