Strong Start To Finish
Policy Report

Developmental Education Reform Outcomes by Subpopulation

April 1, 2018
Jessica Brathwaite, Nikki Edgecombe

Despite long-standing differences in student achievement across race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), and gender in community colleges, most developmental education reforms are not explicitly de- signed to improve the academic outcomes of students with particular characteristics. Such an approach is pragmatic and efficient but raises important questions regarding equity. Are all students benefitting equally from reforms to developmental education? Do reforms appear to ad- vantage or disadvantage particular groups? Research suggests reforms aimed at equity often benefit more advantaged groups (Raftery & Hout, 1996).

In this chapter, we explore the influence of a statewide developmental education reform on equity. After briefly describing the goals of the reform, we examine pre-reform to post-reform changes in outcomes across race/ethnicity, gender, and SES. We also look at absolute performance and pre-to-post changes in outcomes for students referred to the lowest levels of developmental English and math. We conclude the chapter with practice and policy recommendations that may strengthen outcomes as well as equity.