Research suggests that far more students are referred to developmental education courses than necessary, and that developmental education presents a barrier to students’ success. As a result, many in the field have called for reforms to developmental education to address these challenges.
This report documents developmental education practices used in broad-access two- and four-year colleges across the country based on a 2016 survey of public two- and four-year colleges and private, nonprofit four-year colleges as well as interviews with institutional and state leaders. It examines practices in assessment, placement, instruction, and support services and finds that many colleges are experimenting with changes to traditional developmental education.
A growing number of public colleges are using measures in addition to standardized tests, such as high school grades, to assess college readiness. Additionally, many colleges are implementing instructional reforms. The most prevalent of these are: compressing developmental courses into shorter periods, offering diverse math courses that align with students’ careers, allowing students to determine their own learning pace, and integrating developmental reading and writing instruction into one course. However, while widespread, these reforms typically reach less than half of students at the colleges.