Precollege Milestones

Completion of Developmental Math 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 math, percentage who completed a developmental math sequence within three years, by level of referral

What Is Measured?

Percentage of students who completed a developmental math 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 math

What It Tells Us

Overall, one-third (33 percent) of students referred to developmental math completed a developmental math 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 math one level below the college level were the most likely to complete the sequence (45 percent), followed by students referred to a math course two levels below the college level (32 percent) and those referred to a reading course three or more levels below the college level (17 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, 9 offered one level of developmental math, 9 offered two levels, and 35 offered three or more levels. Participating institutions were given the following instructions on how to determine whether a student should be considered 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.

Data Source

Bailey, T., Jeong, D. W., & Cho, S. W. (2009, November). Referral, enrollment, and completion in developmental education sequences in community colleges. CCRC Working Paper No. 15. New York: Columbia University, Teachers College, Community College Research Center.