Promising Practices for Community College Developmental Education

Schwartz, Wendy; Jenkins, Paul Davis

Developmental education is a key part of the college experience of a great number of community college students. Nationwide, about 60 percent of recent high school graduates who enter postsecondary education through community college take at least one remedial course (Bailey, Leinbach, and Jenkins, 2005). Yet, despite the prevalence of students who take developmental courses at community colleges, there is surprisingly little definitive research evidence on what makes for effective developmental education practice. Many studies of community college developmental education (or “remedial” education; we use these terms interchangeably) are based on programs and students at single institutions. These studies often do not make use of carefully selected comparison groups, and they typically do not track individuals long enough to find out whether students are eventually able to earn degrees or transfer to baccalaureate programs (see Levin and Calcagno, 2007). This document provides a summary of key findings from the research literature on developmental education practices that appear promising. It was produced as a discussion resource for community college educators and state agency staff in Connecticut. We hope that the practices described in this document encourage community college educators in Connecticut to reflect on how they currently approach developmental education and discuss ways they might strengthen program outcomes.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Community College Research Center
Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
April 3, 2014