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David Arendale
Faculty Advisor for Outreach

Each issue of the newsletter will highlight resource information that you can use immediately to support your work with students.

David Arendale

Polices Related to Learning Assistance and Developmental Education: Annotated Bibliography
David Arendale (Compiler)

The following annotated bibliography provides an overview of selected recent publications related to issues that will impact postsecondary developmental education in the near future. Many of the documents are available on the Web, as noted in the references.

Based on the research model developed by John Naisbitt (co-author of Megatrends, among other books), and other futurists, trends are often first detected in the following five states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, and Texas. For a variety of geographic and demographic reasons, these “leading indicator” states often are predictive of future trends in a wide variety of areas in American society. The reader is encouraged to be especially observant of events occurring in these states. Comparing past and current policies concerning academic access, developmental education, and learning assistance programs helps to identify emerging trends that may have regional or national impact on the field. The following list of annotated publications provides an overview of some of these trends.


Barefoot, B. O. (2003). Findings from the Second National Survey of First-Year Academic Practices, 2002. Brevard, NC: Policy Center for the First Year of College.

These findings are based on survey results received from 1,000 colleges concerning first-year programs for students. Several of the questions were related to developmental education. While developmental education courses are offered at nearly all 2-year institutions, the percentage drops dramatically with public 4-year institutions: 80% of baccalaureate general colleges; 40% of baccalaureate liberal arts colleges; 70% of master's I & II; 70% of research intensive; 60% of research extensive. In the past 5 years, the percentage of students taking developmental courses has increased most at public 2-year institutions. In general, enrollment has remained even at 4-year institutions, though there are differences by type. About a third of baccalaureate-general colleges reported increases while an equal percentage reported decreases at research extensive institutions.


Barton, P. E. (2002). The closing of the education frontier? Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

The author makes an implicit analogy with a theory presented a century ago by Frederick Jackson Turner: that early America was defined by the opportunity of the “opening of the American West.” The Turner thesis was, “Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain American development.” Accordingly, America changed when the West was closed and opportunity ended in 1893. Using this concept as a counterpoint, Barton questions whether the frontier of educational opportunity has already closed, thereby changing American culture. He argues that there is empirical evidence that postsecondary educational opportunity has closed, therefore changing the nature of American society. Barton's data challenges the conventional wisdom that educational attainment has continued to increase during the last quarter-century. He paints a picture of an educational system that is not producing more high school graduates, that continues to display great social inequality, and that is not able to support greater proportions of students through to degrees in 4-year college programs.


Bastedo, M. N., & Gumport, P. J. (2003). Access to what? Mission differentiation and academic stratification in U.S. public higher education. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 46(3), 341-359. Retrieved July 4, 2004, from

This article analyzes developmental education policy in Massachusetts and New York to examine recent policy decisions regarding the termination of academic programs, elimination of remedial education, and promotion of honors colleges within each state system. A result of these policy decisions has been to increase stratification of programs and students within a public state higher education system as well as with individual institutions within the state system. The authors argue that more intense analysis needs to be conducted before systematic changes are made within education systems to avoid or at least forecast major changes in the stratification of student opportunity to attend postsecondary education.


Boylan, H. R., Saxon, D. P., & Boylan, H. M. (2002). State policies on remediation at public colleges and universities. Unpublished manuscript, National Center for Developmental Education, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.

The authors conducted a survey of higher education officials in all 50 states. States where developmental courses are restricted at state 2- and 4-year institutions include California, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. States where developmental courses are restricted to only 2-year institutions are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Montana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Other survey results include regulations concerning mandatory testing and placement, impact upon financial aid, type of academic credit awarded, and state efforts to reduce the need for developmental education coursework by changes with high school curriculum.


Furlong, T., & Fleishman, S. (2000). College preparatory program agreements between state universities and community colleges: A Level 1 review. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State Board of Community Colleges. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED440716)

This report reviews the long history of college preparatory programs offered to state university students in Florida through partnerships with local community colleges. Courses are offered either at the community college or by the community college on the university campus. Results of the study suggest that: (a) administration of the college-university agreements are sound, (b) communication between sectors is adequate, (c) there are not problems with delivery of services to students, (d) community colleges are perceived to be best suited for delivery of remedial instruction, and (e) the majority of students successfully perform college-level coursework after completing college preparatory courses.


Jehangir, R. R. (2002). Higher education for whom? The battle to include developmental education at the four-year university. In J. L. Higbee, D. B. Lundell, & I. M. Duranczyk (Eds.), Developmental education: Policy and practice (pp. 17-34). Auburn, GA: National Association for Developmental Education.

This chapter examines the debate regarding the role of developmental education at public 4-year universities, and focuses on the following topics: discussion of the historic and political forces that have shaped perceptions regarding DE; a description of DE and developmental students; an examination of the debate around its place in higher education with specific attention to current state legislative action against DE at the public 4-year university; and recommendations for developmental educators who seek to challenge the merit of such legislation and create a paradigm shift around perceptions of DE.


Jenkins, D., & Boswell, K. (2003). State policies on community college remedial education: Findings from a national survey. Washington, DC: Center for Community College Policy, Education Commission of the States.

Ten states currently prohibit or discourage remedial education at public 4-year institutions: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. Louisiana will prohibit such coursework beginning in 2005. Remedial education is being curtailed with the City University of New York system and the California State University system. Massachusetts restricts such enrollment to a smaller percentage. These changes have increased enrollment in remedial education at public community colleges. Most states have instituted evaluation programs to monitor such enrollment at the community college and transfer to 4-year institutions.


Lizotte, R. (1998). Access and quality: Improving the performance of Massachusetts Community College developmental education programs. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Community College System.

The Massachusetts Community College Developmental Education Committee was charged to identify practices and models for adoption by the state's community colleges. Some of the recommendations include the following four areas: (a) assessment and placement, such as the mandatory comprehensive assessment of all incoming students or mandatory placement into appropriate courses; (b) curriculum design and delivery, which includes comprehensive developmental curriculum, exit criteria for each developmental course, and continuous outcome research to measure program effectiveness; (c) support services such as monitoring student success through intrusive advising and providing tutors and Supplemental Instruction programs, and (d) organizational structure, including professional development of faculty and funding full-time faculty to teach developmental courses.


Martinez, S., Snider, L. A., & Day, E. (2003). Remediation in higher education: A review of the literature. Topeka, KS: Kansas State Board of Education.

This national survey of developmental education deals with the following issues: (a) reason for DE enrollment levels, (b) strategies to reduce need for DE, (c) institutional type to provide DE, (d) financial responsibility for DE, (e) factors that make DE more effective, and (f) suggested DE research topics. The report concludes with a state-by-state analysis of DE by identifying the following features: (a) annual cost, (b) enrollment percentage, (c) state laws and policies or proposed changes, (d) and restrictions on provision of DE.


New England Resource Center for Higher Education. (2002). Developmental education and college opportunity in New England: Lessons for a national study of state and system policy impacts. Washington, DC: The Institute for Higher Education Policy and New England Resource Center for Higher Education.

This pilot project does not evaluate New England's state policies or compare New England public institutions, but rather provides important clues and lessons on how developmental education policies are being implemented in a specific geographic region and what questions need to be considered in a national study or project. Common characteristics of developmental education (DE) programs were: (a) formation of 2-year/4-year partnerships, (b) outsourcing of DE to local community colleges, (c) transferring of priority of DE to 2-year colleges, (d) centralizing of DE programs at 4-year colleges, (e) providing summer bridge DE programs, and (f) using ACT Accuplacer for assessment of students. Numerous recommendations were made for a national study on developmental education. These were to examine both centralized and decentralized state system policy approaches to DE, explore financial implications of statewide DE policy, identify curriculum impacts of DE policies, discuss admissions decisions and enrollment yields impacted by DE programs and policies, and examine student responses and perspectives as a consequence of changing statewide policies related to DE.


O’Brien, C. T. (2004). Indicators of opportunity in higher education. Washington, DC: The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education.

Most students from low-income families (below $25,000 annual income) do not attend college since it appears unattainable. Those who do attend from this group generally attend public 2-year or proprietary colleges. Most of these students will not complete a 4-year baccalaureate degree. Postsecondary education is becoming more stratified by students’ income.


O’Brien, C., & Shedd, J. (2001). Getting through college: Voices of low-income and minority students in New England. Washington, DC: The Institute for Higher Education Policy. Retrieved July 4, 2004, from

This research study employed surveys and in-depth interviews with currently enrolled low-income and minority students in the New England region concerning their feelings about the obstacles they face in succeeding in college and what strategies they are employing to deal with the environment. Findings from the study include: (a) Pre-college academic preparation programs were rated highly as supporting current college success, though only one-fourth of eligible students are able to participate at the high school level; (b) Financial aid was a key factor in college attendance, though one-third indicated that their financial aid package was inadequate and caused other hardships in their lives; and (c) Minority students were more likely to participate in pre-college programs than their counterparts. Recommendations offered by the report include an increased awareness of pre-college academic preparation programs, increased offerings of grants in lieu of loans, increased efforts to establish a “campus community” for students who live off campus, have families, off-campus employment, and have other responsibilities away from the campus.


Parsad, B., & Lewis, L. (2003). Remedial education at degree-granting postsecondary institutions in Fall 2000 Statistical analysis report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved July 4, 2004, from http//

This study was conducted through the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Postsecondary Education Quick Information System (PEQIS). It was designed to provide current national estimates of the prevalence and characteristics of remedial courses and enrollments in degree-granting 2-year and 4-year postsecondary institutions that enrolled freshmen in fall 2000 and to report changes in remediation from fall 1995. For the purposes of this study, remedial education courses were defined as courses in reading, writing, or mathematics for college-level students lacking those skills necessary to perform college-level work at the level required by the institution. This report presents data on remedial course offerings, student participation in remedial programs, institutional structure of remedial programs, and the delivery of remedial courses through distance education. This study examined two issues not covered in the 1995 survey: types of technology used in the delivery of remedial education through distance education courses, and the use of computers as hands-on instructional tool for on-campus remedial education. The data are presented by institutional type, such as public 2-year, private 2-year, public 4-year, and private 4-year.


Shaw, K. M. (1997). Remedial education as ideological battleground: Emerging remedial education policies in the community college. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 19(3), 284-296.

The author describes the current debate about the appropriate location of remedial education classes and their frequent placement with public community colleges. The ideological underpinnings for the debate are examined. Distinctions are drawn between developmental and remedial education and the appropriate implementation by community colleges. Some institutions are strongly controlled by state-level policymaking that strictly dictates the implementation of policy down to the individual institution regarding testing, admissions, placement into remedial courses, and the curriculum of such courses. Other states provide guidelines that are open for interpretation by the individual institution. Still other states are not directive regarding such matters, which are left for local control. This represents three distinct policy models used by public community colleges in the U.S.


Task Force on Remedial Education. (2001). Collaborating to strengthen student preparation. Springfield, IL: Illinois Community College System.

The Remedial Education Task Force identified priority needs for remedial education in Illinois. Strategies identified for implementation included further alignment of standardized student assessment instruments, agreement on student placement parameters, reinforcement of current P-16 collaborations, promotion of earlier awareness of rising academic and workplace standards, and development of strategies for earlier intervention in P-12 pipeline. They also recommend intervention with students while still in high school, aligning high school graduation and college entrance requirements, providing more feedback to high schools concerning their graduates needing remediation, and providing alternatives to academic term length developmental courses to remediate weaknesses. This may involve coordinating Adult Education, ESL, and college developmental programs; tracking students who enroll in remedial courses to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention; developing comprehensive student support systems that address both academic and nonacademic needs; and providing remedial education via alternative educational delivery systems. Finally more studies included providing professional development for full- and part-time remedial instructors to improve their skills and integrate technology within the classroom and developing statewide standards for remedial education courses.


Task Force on Remedial Education. (1997). Report of the task force on remedial education. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts.

In this document, the Task Force on Remedial Education examines the issue of remedial education, describes the scope of remedial education at the university, and offers recommendations for policies and administrative procedures that will foster student learning through remedial education. These are that: (a) The University of Massachusetts should continue to offer limited remedial programs to address the needs of its admitted students; (b) The university and the community colleges should explore additional avenues of collaboration that might improve or enhance the quality and cost-effectiveness of remediation available to students enrolled in both sectors; (c) All entering first-time freshmen and transfer students should continue to be assessed by each campus to determine appropriate course assignments for mathematics and writing; (d) Campus faculty and administrators responsible for remedial programs at UMass campuses should increase their levels of communication and collaboration with each other; and (e) The university should develop better methods for assessing the outcomes of remedial instruction, working collaboratively with other sectors of higher education as necessary.

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