Teachers College, Columbia University

Developmental Education in Community Colleges

By Thomas Bailey & Sung-Woo Cho

Developmental students face tremendous barriers. Less than one quarter of community college students who enroll in developmental education complete a degree or certificate within eight years of enrollment. In comparison, almost 40 percent of community college students who do not enroll in any developmental education course complete college in the same time period. To meet the Obama administration's goal of increasing the number of community college graduates by 5 million by 2020, it is necessary to significantly improve outcomes for underprepared community college students.

In this brief, the authors review evidence about the effectiveness of developmental education and provide information about the progression of students through developmental sequences. The authors then discuss problems associated with the assessments used to assign students to developmental courses, and briefly review costs. Finally, they describe three initiatives designed to improve the performance of remedial services.