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

This brief prepared for the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness presents interim findings from a random assignment evaluation of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) program at four Texas community colleges. It also includes an exploratory analysis of the effectiveness of the program for various subgroups.

Brief

Two experimental studies examined multiple measures assessment (MMA), in which colleges use alternative measures (like high school GPA) rather than just standardized test scores, to assign students to developmental or college-level courses. Students placed using MMA were more likely to complete college-level courses. This brief offers recommendations for other colleges.

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.