Precollege Milestones

Completion of Developmental Reading Sequence: Achieving the Dream

Among first-time degree-seeking students enrolled in Achieving the Dream colleges in fall 2003 to fall 2004 who were referred to developmental reading, percentage who completed a developmental reading sequence within three years, by level of referral

What Is Measured?

Percentage of students who completed a developmental reading sequence within three years

Who Is Counted?

First-time credential-seeking students who enrolled in Achieving the Dream colleges from fall 2003 to fall 2004 and were referred to developmental reading

What It Tells Us

Overall, almost one-half (46 percent) of students referred to developmental reading completed a developmental reading sequence. Not surprisingly, students referred to higher-level developmental courses were more likely to complete the sequence than students referred to lower-level courses. Students referred to developmental reading one level below the college level were the most likely to complete the sequence (50 percent), followed by students referred to a reading course two levels below the college level (42 percent) and those referred to a reading course three or more levels below the college level (29 percent).

Why It's Important

Most beginning community college students must complete at least one developmental education course in mathematics or English (reading, writing, or both), and many must complete multiple courses in one or more subjects. Completing the highest-level developmental course in a subject is the final precollege milestone and is often required to transfer to a four-year institution or to earn a certificate or associate degree.

About the Data

Achieving the Dream: includes 57 public two-year institutions 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.

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.

Estimates for "never enrolled" were calculated based on data from the original source.

Data Source

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.