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
Brief

Many colleges are exploring alternative assessment models, such as informed self-placement (ISP), to increase student enrollment and success in entry-level college courses and to identify students who would benefit from developmental (remedial) instruction. This literature review provides a discussion of the methods used to implement ISP and justifications for its use.

Brief

Informed self-placement (ISP) helps college students determine whether they are ready for entry-level college courses or need remedial education first. This brief explores the potential of ISP to improve students’ access to college-level courses and gives colleges an opportunity to consider placement-method changes that may boost student success.

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.