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Developmental Education: New Approaches for the 21st Century

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Annual Meeting of the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE),


In the past decade, developmental education has come under increased examination by stakeholders. Founded as an avenue for learners with academic deficits to meet educational goals, developmental education has helped many students. However, many more learners fail to succeed due to institutionalized difficulties, chief of which is a no-credit return on a highly intensive temporal and economic commitment. Supporters believe developmental education to be a critical time of learning for its participants while critics argue the process begins with inaccurate use and interpretation of placement tests (Bailey, Jaggers, & Scott-Clayton, 2013) followed by long, mandatory sequences of non-credit bearing courses. Additionally, these detractors cite that less than half of all students referred to developmental education complete their recommended curriculum sequence before beginning a degree program (Charles A. Dana Center et al., 2012). This paper summarizes the literature, providing a brief history of developmental education before evaluating these contemporary issues and problems. Key features of innovative programs are then evaluated, along with real-life examples of these features in practice. The paper concludes with recommendations for continued improvements in developmental education in order to ensure the opportunities of higher education remain open to as many students as possible.


Conforti, P., Sanchez, J. & McClarty, K.L. (2014). Developmental Education: New Approaches for the 21st Century. Presented at Annual Meeting of the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE) 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2019 from .

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