Reengineering Developmental Math

Accelerating Student Success Through High-Return Personalized Pathways

Topics: Community College, Academic Affairs, Academic Planning, Curriculum Development, Program Approval, Program Prioritization, Student Retention and Success, Developmental and Remedial Education

Executive Summary

Once a low-profile college offering, developmental education has been forced into the public spotlight by the completion agenda, earning names such as the “Bridge to Nowhere” and the “Bermuda Triangle of Higher Education.” College leaders agree that these gloomy labels hold some truth: over half of community college entrants test into pre-college coursework and only a small fraction of these students ever progress to college-level or earn a college credential.

In an effort to strengthen student outcomes, progressive colleges are redesigning developmental math curricula, placement practices, and instructional delivery. While several of these reforms have produced impressive student success gains, no silver bullet has emerged. Further complicating redesign prioritization, similar strategies have produced vastly different outcomes across institutions, suggesting that it is not enough to simply “have a good idea”—success is in the implementation details.

Based on 200+ research interviews and on-sites with leading community colleges, this initiative breaks through institutional silos and foundation-sponsored redesign clusters to identify the most promising developmental math redesign strategies as well as the key ingredients for implementation success.

  • Toolkit and Resource Center 

    This library of tools and resources collected during our study helps support efforts to maximize return from flipped classrooms, match curriculum to career goals, and determine the optimal student mathpath. Access now.

Traditional Delivery Pedagogically Ineffective