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Innovations in Developmental Math: Community Colleges Enhance Support for Nontraditional Students

Cecilia Le, Kimberly R. Rogers, and Janet Santos

Nearly 60 percent of incoming community college students are unprepared for college-level work and must take at least one pre-college, “developmental” course, usually in math or English, before enrolling in any credit-bearing classes toward a degree. Within developmental education, students are most likely to need help with mathematics, and students who enter community college needing to take developmental math fare the worst in terms of outcomes making this an issue that deeply affects students.

Lack of readiness for college math is as damaging as it is widespread. Students are more likely to fail developmental mathematics than any other course in higher education, according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Thus, it is not surprising that many students referred to developmental math choose to bypass such courses and services, without knowing the detrimental consequences of this decision on their overall educational goals.

This brief looks at three community colleges that have made significant investments in programs to improve student success in developmental math. These colleges are spotlighted for their implementation of the varied approaches to developmental math and for their ability to demonstrate outcomes for their students.

Content for this brief was informed by research from the MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award program and other Jobs for the Future initiatives.