Percentage of students who completed a gatekeeper reading course within three years
First-time credential-seeking students who enrolled in Achieving the Dream colleges from fall 2003 to fall 2004 who were referred to, and completed, developmental reading and enrolled in a gatekeeper reading course
Overall, three-quarters (75 percent) of students who completed developmental reading and enrolled in a gatekeeper reading course completed within three years of enrolling in community college. Students referred to developmental reading three or more levels below the college level were the most likely to complete a gatekeeper reading course (78 percent), while students referred to developmental reading one or two levels below the college level completed a gatekeeper reading course at an equal rate (75 percent). Of the students who were referred to developmental reading and then enrolled in a gatekeeper course, 76 percent began at one level below the college level, 20 percent began at two levels below the college level, and 6 percent began at three or more levels below the college level.
There is general consensus that timely completion of gatekeeper courses, the lowest-level college-level courses in the core subjects of mathematics, reading, and writing, positively affects student outcomes such as attainment of certificates and degrees and transfer to a four-year institution. Completion of gatekeeper courses fulfills requirements for graduation and transfer as well as prerequisites for more advanced courses in various fields.
Gatekeeper courses: colleges chose their own "gatekeeper" courses, but the term was formally defined in the data gathering instructions to the colleges as the first college-level courses the student must take after remediation.
Achieving the Dream: includes 57 community colleges in Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.
Among the Achieving the Dream institutions, 11 offered one level of developmental reading, 20 offered two levels, and 20 offered three or more levels of developmental reading.
Participating institutions were given the following instructions on how to determine whether a student should be considered as referred to remedial math or reading: "Student was referred for remedial needs in mathematics [reading]. Remedial courses are instructional courses designed for students deficient in the general competencies necessary for a regular postsecondary curriculum and educational setting. The student can be referred through a counselor, a developmental office, etc." Institutions with multiple levels of remedial education were asked to report the level to which the student was initially referred.
Estimated percentages of students who started at different levels of developmental reading, completed the sequence, and enrolled in the gatekeeper course were calculated from table 3 of the source and do not add to 100 percent due to rounding.
Bailey, T., Jeong, D. W., & Cho, S.-W. (2010). Referral, enrollment, and completion in developmental education sequences in community colleges. Economics of Education Review, 29(2), 255–270.