Achieving the Dream logoThe Developmental Education Initiative, created by MDC with Achieving the Dream and funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates and Lumina foundations, was an effort at 15 colleges and six states to find ways to make developmental education more effective, more efficient or unnecessary altogether.
The colleges were:
  • Houston Community College District, Houston, Texas
  • Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio
  • Norwalk Community College, Norwalk, Conn.
  • Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville, Va.
  • Eastern Gateway Community College, Steubenville, Ohio
  • Valencia College, Orlando, Fla.
  • Guilford Technical Community College, Jamestown, N.C.
  • Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport, Conn.
  • Zane State College, Zanesville, Ohio
  • North Central State College, Mansfield, Ohio
  • South Texas College, McAllen, Texas
  • El Paso Community College, El Paso, Texas
  • Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Danville Community College, Danville, Va.
  • Coastal Bend College, Beeville, Texas


For too many community college students, developmental (remedial) education becomes an unnecessarily difficult barrier to cross, particularly low-income students and students who have returned to school after a long absence.
From 2009-2012, these colleges and states worked individually and as a peer network to address these challenges. The colleges worked to remove institutional roadblocks, speed up classes, improve support services, and make instruction more effective in developmental education classes at community colleges.
States developed strategies to collect reliable data about student outcomes, allocate funds that support broad adoption of successful models, and implement policies that encourage improvements (DEI state policy work was led by Jobs for the Future.).
MDC synthesized lessons from colleges and states to inform a guidebook on scaling effective community college programs, More to Most.
In 2013, the final year of the grant, MDC focused on disseminating the lessons from these efforts in What We Know, a two-volume set that includes a synthesis of key lessons for implementation of successful developmental education reforms, and a reflection from DEI college presidents on what it takes to create and sustain systemic change. 
In February 2014, Right from the Start was released, a four-part series produced in partnership with Achieving the Dream. The practitioner-focused, evidence-based briefs spotlight successful developmental education reform efforts at seven Achieving the Dream colleges.


  • Colleges scaled  successful practices: Zane State College's intensive advising program serves every developmental education student and helped raise student retention rates to as high as 96 percent; El Paso Community College now serves more than 3,000 students each semester in the Pre-testing Retesting Educational Preparation (PREP) program. Many students advance at least one remediation level—and some more than one—reducing the number of courses they'll take before advancing to credit-bearing work.
  • States invested in data-driven improvement and investment: Florida developed a student success dashboard to make student results more visible to state and local decision-makers; the North Carolina Community College System redesigned developmental math curricula and delivery for all 58 colleges in the state.


For more information, contact Abby Parcell.