In response to Martha Maxwell's comments about "right to fail"--yes, administrators (myself excepted) DO see less value in developmental students given the boomlet. In Massachusetts we are in the last phases of a large student drought--all 15 community colleges have had declines in enrollments of 10- 15% and more over the past 4-5 years. So access has had a financial benefit, since in this area more than 50 colleges are vying for the dwindling student pool--this has been an opportunity for us to build remedial programs that work, if we can show that the students we accept and teach move on and eventually graduate. We've had a president at my college who really believes in this approach as a financial survival strategy, as well as a philosophy. He's retiring and the new VP is making noises about "outsourcing." I don't buy it for a minute. My husband has worked for these companies, and they do test prep,not education. In my job I have seen that nationally normed short-answer tests in reading and writing do not accurately reflect actual reading nd writing ability at the developing levels. They reflect social class, and they are far too blunt an instrument to be used for the kinds of benchmarking assessment and curriculum development we need to provide true, ongoing access for students to increasingly advanced levels of learning. In short, increasing their reading test scores does not help them to read in authentic situations. My favorite line about these tests (I wish I'd said this) is that you might as well ask the students how many bathrooms in their houses and save all that paper--the results are the same. So in my view outsourcing to the test-prep companies is just another detour for higher education--another way in which we are led to marginalize student populations different from the Class of 1960. It's the old remedial room all over again--Take em outa college, get them up to speed (make them American while you're at it--don't worry, we won't hold our breath!) and if they should ever make it to where we believe they should be functioning, they can come to real college. Where we stand in front of our classrooms with the tab-arm chairs all in rows and lecture in standard American English (My god, some of these people don't even understand ENGLISH!) The truth is, that kind of teaching doesn't reach a LOT of students, and a LOT of supposed learning is just the ability to handle testing and paper-production. The students who test developmental are just the tip of the iceberg. And we are the Titanic. Think about these tutoring companies--what do the workers make? What academic preparation and support for ongoing growth do they receive? How long do any of them stay at this work? Their materials are secret (the workers have to sign an agreement not to work at a rival tutoring company for 5 years after working at one of them) and these materials are controversial because they are borrowed from the national tests!! Where is the learning there? It's a bald and cynical shell game, I'm afraid. As compared to what? To the authentic integration of literacy-based teaching in each and everu college classroom--to basic instruction in academic literacies that allows students access to the broad and deep uses in their own lives of the linguistic strategies they are learning to employ--not a set of test questions that are purposely decontextualized to increase the chance of a wrong guess. I get so mad about all this I get inarticulat4--what do you all think?