A-100 Guidelines

Guideline A-100  [2012]

Subject: Learning Support 

The A-100 Guideline reflects the redesign of the former Developmental Studies Program. It demonstrates the commitment of the TBR System and its institutions to enhance students’ access to and success in higher education. Learning support in this guideline is defined as academic support needed by a student to be college ready as established by the ACT college readiness benchmarks and standards.  Full implementation of this guideline must occur by fall 2013.

I. Assessment - Initial assessment will be required of all students. Institutions will require secondary diagnostic assessment for students who have not met the criteria listed in the table below in order to determine the appropriate learning support.

   Degree Seeking First-time Students

  • Entering students under 21 years of age must present ACT/SAT scores. However, community college students under the age of 21, who have no ACT or SAT scores, and who will not have an opportunity to take either on a national test date before classes begin, will be given COMPASS or ASSET.
  • Entering students 21 years and older who do not have ACT/SAT scores must complete the COMPASS or ASSET.
  • Scores used for initial assessment must have been earned within 3 years prior to the first day of the student’s entering term. 

   Degree Seeking Transfer Students 

  • Students entering without transferable college-level English composition credit will be assessed in writing.
  • Students entering without transferable college-level credit from a reading intensive general education course will be assessed in reading.  The designation of the reading intensive course will be made by the receiving institution.
  • Students entering without transferable college-level mathematics credit will be assessed in mathematics.

    Special Students:  Non-degree Seeking / Certificate Programs

  • Certificate seeking students entering without transferable college-level English composition credit will be assessed prior to enrollment in college-level English or in any course with English composition as a prerequisite. 
  • Certificate seeking students entering without transferable college-level credit from a reading intensive general education course will be assessed in reading.  The designation of the reading intensive course will be made by the receiving institution.
  • Certificate seeking students without transferable college-level mathematics credit will be assessed prior to enrollment in college-level mathematics or in any course with mathematics as a prerequisite.
  • Students who change to degree-seeking status will be assessed under guidelines for degree seeking students.
  • For students desiring to take one or more courses for personal or professional development, the institution will establish a policy to address the need for assessment.

   Secondary Diagnostic Test

  • Institutions will provide secondary diagnostic assessment for students who are not required to test but request this assessment. 
  • Students will be assessed diagnostically to determine appropriate learning support if their initial assessment scores fall below:     

         Proposed ACT/COMPASS/ASSET Minimum College Level *











Critical Reading   450





Critical Reading   460





Math                     460

* Concordant ACT, COMPASS, and ASSET Scores February, 2010. These scores must be implemented for fall 2011.

  • Beginning fall 2012, in response to the TN diploma project and Complete College TN Act, TN college readiness benchmark scores will be reviewed biannually.  TBR institutions should anticipate revision of assessment scores to parallel ACT recommended college readiness scores.  Students will be assessed diagnostically to determine appropriate learning support when assessment scores fall below the ACT or concorded SAT, COMPASS, or ASSET college readiness scores. (2010 ACT College Readiness scores: Writing--18;Reading--21;Mathematics-22) 

II. Parameters – The president of each institution will submit to the TBR vice chancellor for academic affairs the institution’s plan. This plan should include the proposed redesign that will demonstrate compliance with this guideline and the transition of current students to that redesign.  A timeframe will be determined by the vice chancellor for academic affairs in consultation with the institution’s president. Subsequent annual reports and/or modifications to the institution’s plan will be submitted on a timeline to be established by the vice chancellor.

  Organizational Structure

  • The president of each institution will determine the organizational structure and coordination of learning support services for the institution.
  • Each institution will establish criteria for the selection of learning support faculty consistent with professional disciplinary standards and SACS accreditation.
  • Institutional policies will apply to faculty and staff whose primary role is learning support.

  Learning Support

  • Institutions will develop procedures to transition students to the redesign.   
  • Only learning support at the high school level as defined by Tennessee Department of Education qualifies for federal financial aid. (Federal Student Aid Handbook, Volume 1 – Student Eligibility 2009-2010) 
  • If a student matriculates, the institution’s plan must include strategies to address learning support for those students with ACT subject scores 12 or below (or concorded SAT/COMPASS/ASSET scores).
  • The plan will focus on adequate preparation to enable successful completion of entry-level college courses. Faculty who teach the college-level courses for which the learning support exists must be involved in the development of the plan and are encouraged to be actively involved in the delivery of learning support.
  • The learning support must reflect and not exceed learning outcomes and competencies determined to be appropriate for college readiness. 
  • Students must attain the appropriate mastery level of learning competencies during their initial semesters of enrollment. Students are expected to enroll in the appropriate college-level course immediately upon completion of the learning support or in the next term to enroll.
  • The delivery of learning support must be based on proven methods of integrating technology and learner-centered pedagogy and must address the desired learning competencies. 
  • The plan must include provision for students to be able to move progressively and consistently through the learning support interventions without having to repeat interventions related to competencies for which mastery learning has been demonstrated.
  • Four year institutions will not offer credit that is less than college level for learning support.
  • The mathematics learning support curriculum will have a single exit point into entry- college level mathematics courses. Academic programs or certificates that do not require a college level math course may prescribe mathematics learning support competencies as pre-requisites/co-requisites specific to the degree program or certificate.
  • The institution will design Learning Support so that full-time students should be able to satisfy pre-college level requirements in one semester.  Credit hours assigned to pre-college level Learning Support should be kept to a minimum, not to exceed 15 credit hours.
  • If a student attempts the same less than college level learning support requirements twice and does not demonstrate appropriate mastery learning, the student will be placed on a learning support alert. (“Attempt” is defined as being enrolled after the 14th day count as defined in lottery scholarship rules.) The institution will determine a procedure to work with these students.
  • “Learning Strategies” will not be offered as a required Learning Support course for less than college level credit. Institutions will determine the delivery of appropriate “learning strategies” at their individual institutions.
  • With regard to students receiving VA benefits, each institution will ensure that Learning Support is provided in compliance with the eligibility provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (38 CFR Ch. 1 s 21.4200 et seq.), including requirements for class attendance.

Student Records

  • Students will demonstrate mastery with a grade of C or higher.
  • Successful completion of a student’s learning support competencies will be recorded on the student’s academic record with or without the assignment of standard grades.
  • Students may not audit any portion of their learning support plans.
  • Student progress and completion of learning support competencies will be notated in Banner and posted to the academic record.

  Student Transfers

  • Student learning support information will be provided upon request.  When a transcript is requested, the institution must send placement and enrollment status reports for transferring students that includes student record of progress and completion of learning support competencies.
  • Regardless of the strategies and activities used to provide learning support, once mastery learning has been documented by the institution, all TBR institutions must accept that documentation.
  • If mastery learning for required competencies has not been documented as satisfied, the receiving institution will have an established plan to reassess, if necessary, in order to provide for the continuation of appropriate academic support.

III. Accountability - Evaluation of the learning support services must be a continuous process. As a component of the approved plan, the institution will establish benchmarks and subsequent annual performance indicators to demonstrate progress of students who are placed in learning support.

 Measures of Success 

  • Success will be measured by student completion of learning support, enrollment and success in college entry-level courses for which students have received learning support, fall to fall retention, and graduation rates.
  • Additional data measures may be established and reported by the institution to document and evaluate efforts to increase student success.
  • Appropriate data tracking must be established to track the progress of any student with an ACT subject score 12 or below who is enrolled at the institution.
  • The institution will submit an annual report of progress to the TBR vice chancellor of academic affairs.
  • All TBR institutions will form partnerships with the high school  districts’ Local Educational Agency (LEA) in order to develop early intervention systems to provide learning support for at-risk students identified through the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT assessments taken prior to the senior year of high school.

Source: Approved at Presidents Meeting August 17, 2010 (Revised former guideline A-100, Basic/Developmental Studies Program (DSP) Operational Guidelines); Presidents meeting February 14, 2012. 








Apply Now