Developmental Education

More than half of entering students at community college are unprepared for college-level work, ending up in developmental, or remedial, courses — where they often languish. MDRC is working to identify strategies to help students progress through developmental ed quicker and more successfully.

The Latest
Issue Focus

The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is an uncommonly comprehensive and long-term program shown to raise graduation rates among community college students. Following up after six years, MDRC finds that ASAP increases graduation rates and enables some students to earn their degrees sooner.

Brief

Faced with many applicants with very low math skills, community colleges are responding with a variety of reforms, including restricting developmental courses to students with high-school-level skills. This brief provides context for the policy changes and describes the alternatives two colleges offer to those who don’t make the cut.

Key Documents
Report

What We Know About Improving Developmental Education

One of the greatest challenges that community colleges face in their efforts to increase graduation rates is improving the success of students in their developmental, or remedial, education programs. Emphasizing results from experimental and quasi-experimental studies, this literature review identifies the most promising approaches for revising the structure, curriculum, or delivery of developmental education and suggests areas for future innovations in developmental education practice and research.

Report

A Synthesis of Findings from Six Community Colleges

This report looks at the short-term impacts of 174 one-semester learning communities for developmental students at six community colleges. On average, the programs produced a modest impact on credits earned.

Issue Focus

A Look at MDRC’s Research

Forty percent of all entering college students and over half of entering community college students must take at least one remedial course. Fewer than half make it through developmental education. This two-page Issue Focus provides an overview of new research evidence in four areas of developmental education reform.