Does Developmental Education Improve Labor Market Outcomes? Evidence From Two States

February 2015

Findings from two large community college systems show that completing developmental education courses in reading and writing leads to an increase in earnings, suggesting that developmental education English credits may improve individuals’ employability. However, the study also shows that developmental education math credits had negative impacts on earnings — a finding that supports nationwide efforts to shorten the long-sequence structure of developmental mathematics, and to teach math skills that are applicable to students’ real-world needs. The study was conducted under the aegis of the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE).

Education Northwest’s Michelle Hodara & Di Xu of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, the report’s coauthors, used longitudinal student-unit record data from two cohorts of students who attended community college in North Carolina and Virginia to estimate the labor market returns to developmental credits versus college-level credits.

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