Session Daily: “College ready” changes get good grade from House Higher Education Committee

Session Daily: “College ready” changes get good grade from House Higher Education Committee

Source: Session Daily

The House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would require the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system to determine guidelines for “college-ready” scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.

HF 2586, sponsored by Rep. Peggy Bennett (R-Albert Lea), would also prevent MnSCU institutions from requiring students who receive college-ready MCA scores to take remedial, noncredit classes.

PeggyBennett

Representative Peggy Bennett

A similar law was enacted last year that prevents state colleges and universities from requiring students to take remedial courses if the student scores above a specified level on the ACT in the subject area. However, the Legislature also amended student testing laws last year to no longer require all high school students to take the ACT. Minnesota public school students are required to take the MCAs every year in grades 3 through 8, the reading MCA in grade 10 and the math MCA in grade 11.

Bennett, a recently retired elementary school teacher, said the primary purpose of the bill is to provide students, families and teachers with “more and earlier” information about needs for remediation. “Part of being prepared is to know earlier if you’re on track or not,” she said.

Bennett cited correlations between MCA scores and the need for remedial college coursework, expressing particular concern about increasing percentages of low-income and minority students required to take remedial classes.

Although Bennett said she doesn’t foresee any fiscal cost to the bill, Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-Fridley) raised concerns that the bill could pose an unfunded mandate to MnSCU in terms of staff time.

Rep. Ben Lien (DFL-Moorhead) called the bill “misguided,” saying it wouldn’t add to students’ quality of education or ability to get into college or the workplace.

Representatives of MinnCAN, Students for Education Reform and the Minnesota Business Partnership testified in support of the bill.

Pakou Yang, the system director of P-20 and college readiness at MnSCU, said she feels placement decisions are best made at the local college or university level and would support the use of MCA scores as one — but not the only — factor in determining whether students are placed in remedial courses.

The MnSCU system, which enrolls about 450,000 students, currently uses ACCUPLACER tests to determine the needs for remediation for students who have not taken the ACT or who have ACT scores below MnSCU benchmarks. Bennett said she would be willing to work with MnSCU to refine the bill.

The bill now goes to the House Education Innovation Policy Committee. A companion, SF 2259, sponsored by Sen. Greg Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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