tc columbia

Characterizing the Effectiveness of Developmental Education: A Response to Recent Criticism

By: Thomas Bailey, Shanna Smith Jaggars & Judith Scott-Clayton

Abstract

Over the past several years, CCRC has conducted several research studies on developmental education and has produced reviews synthesizing the results of our own work together with that of colleagues from other research organizations. In a recent issue of the Journal of Developmental Education, Alexandros Goudas and Hunter Boylan (2012) aimed several criticisms at this body of work, with the key claims being that: (1) we unfairly portray developmental education as ineffective because it does not lead to outcomes better than those of college-ready students; (2) we ignore several studies showing positive results; and (3) we overgeneralize from results that are only valid for students near the developmental cutoff scores. This essay addresses each of these claims in detail and shows that they do not stand up to scrutiny.