Why Rethinking Developmental Education is a Priority

Photo: Students in a developmental education course

Included in This Report:

  • Reassessing the Costs and Benefits of Developmental Education
  • Placing Students in Gateway Courses: A More Informed Approach
  • A Fresh Look at the Developmental Ed Curriculum

A Letter from Amit Mrig, President, Academic Impressions

March 2013. Given public and federal pressures on college completion, several higher education and policy groups have recently shone the spotlight on developmental education. Recent studies suggest that half of all undergraduates will take at least one remedial course, but that only a small minority of students in remedial courses goes on to complete a degree or certificate. Developmental education proves costly for open enrollment and moderately selective institutions alike, draining institutional resources with little return.

Most institutions take an additive approach to serving academically underprepared students, investing in additional academic support services and staff. Without challenging the traditional model for placing students and providing developmental courses, this approach proves unsustainable.

We interviewed academic leaders at two-year and four-year institutions that offer effective alternative approaches to traditional developmental education. These institutions have:

  • Adopted more informed approaches to placement of students in gateway courses
  • Replaced non-credit “remedial education” with credit-bearing courses
  • Replaced prerequisite courses with corequisite workshops or other academic support
  • Accelerated the integration of academically underprepared students into the regular curriculum

Through these efforts, they have seen significant gains in retention and completion rates. We hope their advice will be useful to you.

Read the report.