Accelerating Remedial Math Education: How Institutional Innovation and State Policy Interact

Success in developmental education has emerged as a top priority for institutions and states participating in Achieving the Dream, a national initiative on community college success. As some colleges have begun experimenting with alternative delivery and design approaches for remedial math, the institutions are guided and sometimes limited by systems and state policies—around enrollment, financial aid, funding, data systems, and accountability. These policies often reinforce the traditional design and delivery of developmental education and make flexible delivery difficult.

This policy brief looks at efforts in three community colleges, two of which are Achieving the Dream institutions, to revamp their remedial math programming. These three colleges and their efforts to accelerate developmental math provide an important and instructive window on how institutional practice can be shaped by state and system policies—and by shifts in policies. They also demonstrate how important it is for college innovators to work closely with state and system policymakers to protect and promote efforts that show promise to improve student success at the college level.

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