Developmental Education Placement

Participation in Developmental Reading: California

Percentage of students who first enrolled in California Community Colleges in fall 2002 and enrolled in a developmental reading course before summer 2009, by selected student characteristics

What Is Measured?

Percentage of California Community College students enrolled in a developmental reading course within seven years

Who Is Counted?

First-time California Community College students enrolled in fall 2002, excluding dual-enrolled high school students

What It Tells Us

In California, 11 percent of incoming community college students took a developmental reading course over a period of seven years from the time they first enrolled. Compared to all students, participation in developmental reading was more common among Blacks and Hispanics (14 percent each), low-income students (19 percent), and younger students (15 percent).

Why It's Important

For students in need of developmental education, enrolling in a specific course mandated by the placement test is the first step toward advancement to a college-level program. Many students never enroll in developmental courses at the level at which they are assessed, however. Because placements are not always binding, many students enroll in higher- or lower-level courses. Some may skip courses in the remedial sequence or skip developmental education altogether. As a result, the rates at which students enroll in developmental courses provide an incomplete picture of the need for remediation. Placement information, however, is rarely available, leaving enrollment rates as the only measure for gauging students' college readiness.

About the Data

Estimates were calculated based on data from the original source.

Developmental reading courses: courses that offer content to improve reading skills for students who are skill deficient in reading.

Low-income: received a fee waiver in 2002-03. The Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges offers need-based tuition waivers for low-income residents of California who are attending a community college. To qualify, a student must receive monthly cash assistance from TANF/CalWORKs, SSI/SSP, or General Assistance (or, if a dependent student, the student's parent(s) receive this assistance) or meet a particular income threshold. This information is known only for students who apply for financial aid, and not all low-income students apply.

Age: student's age at the time of college entry.

Academic goal: student's self-reported academic goal at the time of college entry.

The following academic goals are not shown in the figure: "Other job-related," "abstract," "remediation," "undecided," and "not reported."

Percentages calculated by author.

Data Source

Perry, M., Bahr, P. R., Rosin, M., & Woodward, K. M. (2010). Course-taking patterns, policies, and practices in developmental education in the California Community Colleges. Mountain View, CA: EdSource.