Dev Ed/ABE Toolkit: Chapter 1
For unfamiliar terms, agency names, or acronyms, please see Glossary.
“The current push in higher education to make college level, credit-bearing courses more accessible to all students, but especially students of color and low-income college students, is the single most significant action being taken to dismantle structural inequality in higher education.”
Tiffany Jones, Director of Higher Education Policy, Ed Trust [Not Just Faster: Equity and Learning Centered Developmental Education Strategies,” 2016 Report by the Southern Education Foundation.]
- To provide readers with an overview of the Dev Ed/ABE partnership model
- To describe how the partnership works and the distinction between the two roles in the partnership (college Dev Ed faculty and ABE instructor)
- To highlight the importance and value of utilizing a Dev Ed/ABE partnership model to significantly improve student success
- To identify best practices discovered at the national and local level for effective Dev Ed/ABE partnerships
- To connect the Dev Ed/ABE model’s relationship to equity work
Overview of the Dev Ed/ABE Partnership Model
As mentioned in the Preface, in 2017, the Minnesota legislature passed legislation requiring the Minnesota State Board of Trustees to prepare a plan to reform developmental education offerings at all 37 system campuses aimed at reducing the number of students placed into developmental education. Each campus in the Minnesota State system owned the responsibility for implementing identified developmental education changes that were needed to meet the goals of the DESR.
As campuses began searching for strategies and means to reform their Dev Ed practices, one methodology emerged most broadly, particularly at the two-year institutions (community and technical colleges). The model being referred to is some form of Dev Ed/ABE partnership. To date among the many partnerships already established throughout the state, it has demonstrated significant improvement in the success of students in Dev Ed and college-level gateway courses.
For example, data includes comparison of Dev Ed student class completion rates before the partnership took shape and after, comparison of the length of time for the student to begin credit-bearing courses (before and after partnership), time to program completion, and reduced costs to students.
Existing Minnesota partnerships, as of the writing of this Toolkit, have reported:
- Higher ACCUPLACER® results in post testing
- Higher ABE grade level attained skills measured at beginning and end of class
- Higher TABE results at various intervals (TABE assesses reading, math, English skills)
- Higher level of retention in classes
- Higher course completion rates
Additionally, there are a host of qualitative measures being reported including the increase in student’s classroom confidence as well as improved college and career readiness skills.
How the Model Works
Perhaps the best-known model of integrated instruction is the state of Washington’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program. The program’s website states “I-BEST is a nationally recognized as an evidence-based instructional model that supports career pathways. In an I-BEST program, two instructors are paired in the classroom – one to teach professional/technical or academic content; the other to teach basic skills in reading, math, writing or English language – so students can move through school and into jobs faster.”
The Minnesota Dev Ed/ABE partnership model features a college developmental education faculty member and an adult basic education instructor working cooperatively to teach and guide students. Some partnerships may involve a single Dev Ed course taught by the faculty member, while the ABE instructor focuses on providing additional wrap-around basic skills learning support and life skills development. Whereas, in other partnerships, the Dev Ed and ABE instructors commit to integrating their instruction in strategic ways to address the unique learning needs of the enrolled students. The faculty member and ABE instructor’s professional strengths are more fully understood and utilized. Their complementary roles are clearly defined during the planning phase, as discussed in Chapter 2.
The college instructors are the content experts in their specialty area. They are highly trained to deliver content relevant to the needs of the learner within the parameters of the course description. They have extensive experience working with multiple levels of learners, and they are particularly adept at explaining concepts contextualized to a student’s course of study.
ABE instructors help students master the basics of academic reading, writing, computational, and digital literacy skills, as well as the problem-solving, decision making, interpersonal effectiveness, and other life and learning skills they need to function effectively in school and society. Their expertise teaching “life skills” include helping students gain college and career readiness skills. Students are guided to plan for and evaluate their own progress toward achieving their educational goals; to locate and be able to use the health, governmental, and social service resources needed to improve their own and their families’ lives, all which help enable them to become more employable, productive, and responsible citizens. [Adapted from Minnesota ABE Statute 124D.52.1.]
Additionally, ABE instructors provide complementary “tailored” learning support, along with contextualized learning. This “makes learning relevant, engages and motivates hard-to-reach students, increases learner confidence and enthusiasm, and enhances interest in long-term goals and education.” [Gavilan College website: Contextualized Teaching and Learning.]
Effective co-teaching starts with advance planning where the two instructors develop common learning objectives, define the level of integrated instruction they plan to use (discussed in Chapter 3). Additionally, it is in the planning stage where they develop the curriculum map and syllabus to guide the semester. Both ABE and college instructors have content standards or professional/technical standards which need to be addressed, and the partners need time to ensure that the course content aligns to those standards, and that each partner contributes to student success.