Developmental Education Initiative

Nearly 60 percent of students enrolling in community college must take remedial classes to be eligible for credit-bearing courses. For low-income students and students of color, the figure tops 90 percent at some colleges. MDC’s Developmental Education Initiative  was a three-year effort (2009-2012) to learn more about what policies, practices, and resources are needed to scale up community college programs that help underprepared students get on the credit-earning and completion track. Fifteen colleges and six states that were early participants in Achieving the Dream modified financial aid policies, assessment preparation, and curriculum. They adopted new professional development strategies and conducted evaluations and held student focus groups to learn what was working and how to expand the reach of those practices to more students.

Some policy levers and state actions included:

  • Identifying obstacles to completion, factors that correlate with student success, and high and low performing institutions to inform statewide goals for community colleges.
  • Phasing in common statewide placement standards and aligning remedial work with credit-bearing courses to accelerate progress toward degree completion.
  • Collaborating with K-12 systems to reduce the need for remedial education.
  • Using state-level data systems to track student outcomes in remedial courses.
  • Developing performance-based funding systems that would reward community colleges for helping students progress through remedial education and subsequent college-level courses.
  • Instituting performance incentives to reward colleges for helping more students advance through remedial education courses.

DEI states and colleges completed their grant program in December 2012.

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