Many students enter community college unprepared for college-level academic studies and need to complete a basic skills or developmental program in order to succeed in college-level coursework.
EdSource's study, Course-taking patterns, policies, and practices in developmental education in the California Community Colleges, examined remedial course-taking patterns in the community colleges and the correspondence between those patterns and various student outcomes. (This study was done at the request of the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office.)
The study found, based on the fall 2002 cohort, that students entered the community colleges with a wide range of academic readiness that also differed considerably based on subject matter.
As shown in the pie charts below, more than half of students in the study who took remedial writing began just one level below College Composition. By contrast, less than a quarter began remedial mathematics with Intermediate Algebra or Geometry, the course just below college-level math. Notably, this is the course that high school graduates would presumably be ready for if they have mastered Algebra I.
Students' starting levels in writing and mathematics
Notes: Percentages do not always sum to 100 due to rounding.
Data: Student course enrollment records provided by CCC Chancellor's Office Management Information System (COMIS) matched with course listings, descriptions, and prerequisites from the 2002–03 through 2008–09 course catalogs of the colleges. Includes only courses taken for credit.