Strong Start To Finish

Streamline remediation options.

Students for whom the default college-level course placement is not appropriate, even with additional mandatory support, are enrolled in rigorous, streamlined remediation options that align with the knowledge and skills required for success in gateway courses in their academic or career area of interest.

Evidence emerging from colleges adopting a practice of default placement into gateway courses with mandatory support is extremely encouraging, with many more students passing gateway courses than traditional models. Even so, there is much more work to be done to ensure greater student success, particularly for populations that have been traditionally underserved by postsecondary education. For the sake of equity, we cannot afford to dismiss this reality, and colleges are rightly focused on better understanding and implementing the type and level of support required for all students to succeed in gateway courses in their first year of college.

Promising models include:

  • One-year course sequence. Students with more significant remedial needs can benefit from more robust instruction and enhanced learning supports in the form of a two-semester course sequence in which students master gateway college-credit course material in one year. What makes the one-year model different from traditional remediation models is that course content over the two terms is strategically aligned to the core competencies and skills required for students to complete the college-level gateway course. Course pathways are enhanced college-level courses aligned to a program of study with remedial instruction delivered in a just-in-time manner over the course of a year. In several examples, students study college-level material immediately although at a slower pace than traditional courses and with support embedded in the classroom. These models integrate the teaching of gateway course content with basic skills. Another important component of these models is that they address other college success skills like time management and study skills. Some organizations describe these course pathways as one-year co-requisite models.
  • Embedded or parallel remediation in career technical programs. For students enrolled in a certificate or applied degree program, embedding or providing parallel remediation within the courses or technical program ensures that students are able to immerse themselves in the content that was the purpose of their postsecondary enrollment in the first place. What is most promising about this approach is that it has been proven to work with students who have more significant remedial education needs, including those who are eligible for Adult Basic Education instruction.

Continued development and rigorous evaluation of strategies that provide students with access to the full range of postsecondary credentials and programs must be a priority for postsecondary leaders. It is essential to maintaining the viability of the open-door mission of American higher education.

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EdTech Leaders. (July, 2012). “Models of Contextualization in Developmental and Adult Basic Education.

Jaggars, S.S., Hodara, M., Cho, S., & Xu, D. (2015). “Three Accelerated Developmental Education Programs: Features, Student Outcomes, and Implications.” Community College Review, 43(1), 3–26.

Jobs for the Future. “These People Just Keep Trying to Help Me.” Supporting Students to Succeed in College and Career Pathways."

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Zeidenberg, M., Cho, S., & Jenkins, D. (2010). “Washington State’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST): New Evidence of Effectiveness.” (CCRC Working Paper No. 20). New York, NY: Columbia University, Teachers College, Community College Research Center.

Implementation Guides