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Research Report

Elevating Success in Developmental English

Strategies for Accelerating and Supporting Completion

Sixty percent of community college entrants test into developmental courses, and only a small fraction of these students ever progress to college-level courses. As public scrutiny rises and annual budgets dwindle, college leadership must double-down on efforts to improve their developmental programs.

Strategies to communicate outcomes of developmental English redesigns

Challenge Recommendation
Students Do not enroll in redesigned English courses because the options confuse them or they do not think the new model suits their learning style. Provide insight into student experience in redesigned classes. Journalism students at Sinclair Community College published a magazine with articles about redesigned courses to spread word about their positive impact.
Faculty Are concerned about using new technologies to facilitate computer-based course sections. This particularly challenges older faculty. Offer faculty the chance to work with in-class tutors. Some colleges even employ dedicated staff responsible for training faculty in new technologies and ensuring computers work during class sessions.
Advisors Struggle to balance advising responsibilities and are usually too busy to change their advising technique to fit institutional changes. Meet with advisors at least six months before the start of a redesign to discuss how changes will affect advisor's duties. Advisors at the Community College of Baltimore County use a decision tree to help them explain different course models to students.

This report offers strategies to accelerate student success in developmental English while providing students with the non-academic support they need to meet completion goals.

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Main takeaways

1. Given reduced financial support and the need for developmental education, college leaders must invest in elevating developmental completion rates.

2. Assign administrative responsibility for developmental English courses to the college English department.

3. Redesign developmental English sequences to shorten the path to college-level classes and facilitate more student-faculty coaching sessions.

4. Faculty members must build relationships with developmental students and facilitate opportunities for students to build relationships with classmates.

5. Assess a developmental English redesign by comparing completion rates of college-level coursework in the redesign versus the traditional model.

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