USDOE 2008 Digest of Education Statistics

USDOE just released the 2008 Digest of Education Statistics at It is quite a referencee guide spanning more than 700 pages. I was curious about offerings of developmental-level courses at different types of U.S. postsecondary institutions. That table is found on page 469. USDOE still uses old language when describing these courses. They use the term "remedial" rather than "developmental". While such courses are nearly universal at all public community colleges. However, the percent of public four year colleges has declined by more than 10 percentage points over the past decade.

As more public, four-year institutions seek to improve their standings through external rating services and they also engage in "mission differentiation" to establish a niche for themselves, more and more of them are eliminating developmental-level courses with the hope that students will begin their career at a community college that offers the needed courses and then perhaps transfer to the senior institution later. There was the time when most postsecondary institutions sought to be comprehensive and nearly all of them offered remedial and developmental-level courses for all their students. That is a part of the history of U.S. higher educaton that is too often overlooked and underreported.