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Setting Up Success in Developmental Education: How State Policy Can Help Community Colleges Improve Student Success Outcomes

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Publication Date: June 2009

Publisher(s): Jobs for the Future, Inc.

Author(s): Michael Lawrence Collins

Funder(s): Lumina Foundation for Education

Funder(s): Lumina Foundation for Education

Topic: Education (Colleges and universities)

Keywords: postsecondary; developmental

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


The large number of students entering community college needing developmental education, combined with the low number of students who complete their developmental requirements and meet college-ready standards within the first academic year, have made this area an Achieving the Dream priority for influencing state policies. Achieving the Dream, a national initiative to improve student success in community colleges, has taken a multipronged approach to improving outcomes in developmental education.

This issue brief describes how the 15 participating states have concentrated their policy efforts on four key areas:

Preventative Strategies:
States must define and align standards and expectations for college ready transitions from K-12 into community college.

Assessment and Placement:
A carefully thought-out placement/assessment policy is critical to improving outcomes for developmental education students.

Implementation and Evaluation of Program Innovation:
States should redouble efforts to identify strategies and interventions that can increase student and institutional performance in developmental education.

Performance Measurement and Incentives:
States must develop accurate indicators of how well community colleges are performing, including intermediate measures of success and reward institutions for high performance.