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Innovation at Scale: How Virginia Community Colleges Are Collaborating to Improve Developmental Education and Increase Student Success

May 16, 2018

At a Glance

The state of Virginia—like nearly every state and, indeed, many countries—has turned its attention to helping more students prepare for college-level work by redesigning its developmental education system.


Our nation can only meet its ambitious college completion goals if students who start in developmental education succeed. Virginia—like nearly every state and, indeed, many countries—has therefore turned its attention to helping more students prepare more effectively and efficiently for college-level work.

Innovation at Scale—written by Rose Asera for JFF—describes Virginia’s process of redesigning developmental education to increase college readiness and student success across the state’s 23 community colleges and 40 campuses. 

Virginia has made a significant investment in redesigning developmental education system-wide. By spring 2013, the redesign will transform the way students learn and engage with their colleges. Developmental mathematics will be taught as a series of nine one-credit modules, with students taking only the modules they need. Developmental English will be taught as a tiered subject, integrating academic reading and writing.

This case study highlights the key roles of college leaders, faculty, staff, and, in particular, the chancellor and central office of the Virginia Community College System as the state prepares to implement its ambitious plans. Data-driven, committed, and participatory, this story is sure to be instructive for innovators in other states.

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