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Driving Innovation: How Six States Are Organizing to Improve Outcomes in Developmental Education

Michael Lawrence Collins

More and more young people are enrolling in postsecondary education, particularly in community colleges, with the goal of preparing for jobs that provide access to middle-class wages. Unfortunately, too few students succeed. There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is the large number of students who lack the academic skills to do college-level work upon enrolling—and the dearth of tested, effective ways to help them catch up. A significant redesign of remedial education—how it is organized, delivered, and taught—is required if the nation’s community colleges are to achieve more than incremental progress in increasing student success. The vast majority of our nation’s community colleges need substantial ongoing supports to do so.

The most logical and efficient locus of such support is on the state level, through policies and capacity-building efforts that identify promising practices, test program outcomes, and disseminate proven models quickly and effectively. Six states—Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia—are putting the state policy strategy into action through the Developmental Education Initiative, launched in 2009 by MDC and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

Driving Innovation describes what the DEI states have set out to do and why, the momentum they have developed, and next steps in their efforts to overcome obstacles to better results.