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High Flyers: Policies and strategies that boost developmental education success in Florida’s community colleges

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What can a community college do to ensure that its students complete their degrees and move forward into productive and fulfilling careers? Across the nation, policymakers, educators, students and their families are concerned about the low percentage of enrolled community college students who persevere to complete either a two-year or a four-year college degree. Because community colleges have open access (i.e., all students are eligible to attend regardless of their academic achievement), developmental education is a large component of community college education nationwide.

This study uses focus groups, interviews and supplementary data to explore the extent to which selected colleges in Florida exhibit characteristics of developmental education success and how statewide policies may contribute to strong developmental education performance in relation to these characteristics. The first part of this report is a brief on Florida’s developmental education policies, as seen from the perspective of state administrators, college leaders and college staff. The second part is a set of case studies describing the practices of three community colleges in Florida that were particularly successful in serving students who needed developmental math, compared to other colleges in the state.