Department of Higher Education Briefing
COMMITTEE ON JOINT EDUCATION
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01:34 PM -- Department of Higher Education Briefing
David Skaggs, the executive director of the Department of Higher Education (DHE), introduced staff from the department, and briefly reviewed the functions of each staff member. Mr. Skaggs also shared a packet of information with the committee members (Attachment A).
Mr. Skaggs reviewed the graph regarding tuition and student fees on page 4 of Attachment A, as well as the graph comparing the state's higher education general fund as a percentage of the budget. He discussed the College Opportunity Fund (COF) with committee members, and shared that WICHE will be evaluating the COF program for the department. He noted that the study should be completed this year.
Mr. Skaggs explained that the department won two grants for college affordability and for nontraditional students. He also discussed recent initiatives surrounding Colorado GEAR UP, a federal grant program that assists at-risk students in considering and preparing for college. Mr. Skaggs discussed College Invest, and offered to take questions from the committee.
Senator King asked what percentage of students are coming in under the window (under the window students are students who do not meet the higher education admissions requirements (HEAR) but are still allowed to be admitted to state higher education institutions) and require remediation. Mr. Skaggs asked Dr. Julie Carnahan to come to the witness table. Mr. Skaggs referenced the annual remediation report that just was published, and that a bill will be introduced this session on concurrent enrollment, which is aimed to mitigate remediation. Dr. Carnahan explained that 20 percent of students admitted to four-year higher education institutions can be window admits, as prescribed in state law, but noted that the actual window size varies, citing that Colorado School of Mines admits 10 percent of window students. Senator King asked if those students need remediation, and if so, where do they get it. Dr. Carnahan explained that students needing remediation can do so at a community college or through extended studies programs at the four-year institutions. She also noted all freshman, whether resident and nonresident, can be admitted through the window.
President Groff asked if all students through the window need remediation. Dr. Carnahan explained that not all of them do, because window admits are also students who do not meet HEAR, but may not need remediation. Senator King asked if there is a longitudinal study on the success rate of window students. Dr. Carnahan asked clarification if he referred to remediation students. Senator King clarified that he was inquiring about all students admitted through the window. Dr. Carnahan replied that studies have been completed on remediation only, not on all students admitted through the window. She further noted that the remediation assessment is relatively new, dating back to 2005, so there is only four years of data. Senator King also asked about supports for students, particularly in the first year .
Senator Heath stated that he was pleased to see the attention focused on technical degrees in Colorado GEAR UP. Scott Mendelsberg, the executive director for GEAR UP, shared Senator Heath's enthusiasm for the importance of technical education programs. Representative Middleton asked if remediation is part of the discussions as Senate Bill 08-212 implementation.
Dr. Carnahan responded that remediation is part of the Senate Bill 08-212 discussions with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and explained that the first step in addressing remediation is establishing a definition for postsecondary and workforce readiness, and if that definition includes no remediation or a little remediation. She noted that the definition should be ready in late summer. Dr. Carnahan explained that the next step is selecting an assessment, which could be SAT/ACT, ACCUPLACER, or a different national test. Representative Middleton asked about funding for remediation work. Senator Bacon asked for the challenges in the process, in additional to budget constraints. Mr. Skaggs replied that the higher education system needs to be even more efficient with the dollars it receives and spends, and that there needs to be a fundamental examination of the cost models in higher education.
Senator King asked what students are receiving financial aid under the window. Dr. Carnahan said that it is not information she has available but that she will work to get that information. Senator King also asked how successful Colorado is in responding to the most needy students. Dr. Carnahan explained the department is engaged in looking at students to bring back through the nontraditional no more grant, which includes contacting the students to encourage them to finish their degree.
Senator Romer asked given the budget situation, is it possible that the state has contributed to the Colorado paradox because of revenue limits. Mr. Skaggs stated that it is a possibility, and that schools are looking at how to manage the budget cuts that are coming. Mr. Skaggs also referred to a chart on a poster board regarding the higher education impact on the Colorado economy (Attachment B).
Representative Massey also discussed how the state looks at remediation. Representative Schafer asked about tuition and finances for the most disadvantaged students. Dr. Carnahan explained students taking remedial coursework pay tuition to the community college and to the four-year institution.
Ed Nichols, from the Colorado Historical Society, provide an update to the committee, and shared the mission and work of the society. He highlighted information from the packet of information he provided to the members (Attachment C). He explained the breadth of programs, sites, and museums that are under the society's charge.
The briefing concluded and the committee took a brief recess to wait for the members of the Joint Budget Committee to arrive.