Community college is an institution that is geared towards providing and equipping people with post secondary education. It stemmed from the pressures of the ever increasing numbers of people who needed occupational training and this led to the emergence of two year colleges. The kind of education that is given in these colleges is known as developmental education. The genesis of this kind of education was the realization of the government that if its citizens had to be competent in the global economy then, they had to have the required competitive post secondary credentials. Community colleges offer degrees that are different from those that are offered by four year institutions. The former offers both general associate and technical degrees while the latter offers degrees at graduate and baccalaureate levels.
The paper starts off with a brief introduction of the topic and then proceeds to discuss in depth about developmental education in American community colleges. On the last page of this research paper is a list of all resources that have been consulted while writing this research paper properly formatted in accordance with APA formatting style. The aim of these colleges is to provide the American citizens with variety of learning opportunities through what would be referred to as an open environment policy. For this reason students who do not perform good enough to be enrolled in good colleges are accepted in those colleges. It is the responsibility of these colleges to ensure that those students achieve their set goals because if they do not do so then, they will end up being wasted. This problem is addressed through employment of various strategies and program pertaining to the developmental education.
American community colleges are very important institutions and the role they play cannot by any means be underscored. It is the need to bridge education inequality gaps that led to their rise and to this end they help the minority, socially disadvantaged and low income earners to achieve what they would not have achieved. It is not by their own that this becomes possible but because of the government’s will and commitment to allocate some funds to finance these programs. These colleges and the government are motivated by philosophy of equal learning opportunities. Apart from educating the disadvantaged, the minority and low income earners the colleges also offer developmental education to an ever growing number of adults who seek or need to upgrade their skills and education so that they can be can be competitive in the job market. Immigrants and veterans are also another group that is considered by community colleges.
Initially American community colleges offered what was regarded to as remedial teaching but later this gradually shifted to developmental education. This was as a result of the realization by many state governments that if their respective states had to prosper economically then the level of illiteracy in their states had to be brought down. American community college do not rely mostly on remedial education which is designed to compensate for the deficient skills for students to be able to join standard colleges in fact, they have moved on to holistically address and equip students with all skills they might need in order to succeed in life “Developmental education addresses the needs of the ‘whole person’ by integrating personal and academic development” (Tounsend and Tromby, 194)
The proponents of developmental education in American community colleges argue that unlike remedial education developmental education, “It is a far more sophisticated concept involving a combination of theoretical approaches drawn from cognitive and development psychology” (Tounsend & Thromby 194) Whereas remedial education is just one of the elements of developmental education, developmental education encompasses a wider area including counseling, offering study courses and tutoring. This education tries to combine academic affairs with personal affairs something that helps these students to fit in the post secondary environment. This is based on the understanding that an effective developmental education must touch and serve both effective and cognitive needs.
According to statistics that were released in 2000 by the US Department of education, females who were enrolled full time performed better than their male counterparts, this is partly due to their higher enrollment number. Statistics also show that the number of female students has continued to grow steadily. In the periods between 1969 – 1970 and from 2005 – 2006 the number of females enrolled increased by 20 percent while the rate of male enrollment in the same periods was just 57 percent. This brings the question of whether the need for developmental education varies across gender. It is again on record that the males and females who enroll for developmental education in community colleges, more male than females fail to complete their courses.
American community college being a dynamic institution is ever changing for example, in the recent past like 10 to 15 years ago; the college has come up with a variety of programs geared towards meeting the needs for the enrolled students. The change that is being talked about here took a three dimensional form or in short could be analyzed from three perspectives that is, workforce development, economic developmental and community development. All these are encompassed in developmental education and the first one is designed to offer training to personnel of certain firms who need to advance or refresh their skills. The second perspective of this education is rather than simply offering courses, it is aimed to increase employment opportunity in their respective communities and hence economic stability. The third aspect of developmental education is to develop the community. The knowledge that is offered in those colleges is aimed at well-being promotion and stabilization of social-cultural and political fields.
Due to these significant changes that have been incorporated in the education system, these colleges have somehow created new colleges within community colleges. This is so because each of those new functions brought new culture, rules and regulations. It is these changes that have led these colleges to sometimes be referred to as ‘entrepreneurial college’. The motive of dubbing of these colleges as entrepreneurial colleges is to give them an entrepreneurial spirit, to give market oriented drive and to show its responsiveness to the requirements of external organizations.
Developmental education in American Community colleges has widely elicited criticism across United States. They are those who deem it as useless and say it is a waste of money to pay fees for students to be taught courses they ought to have covered in high school. To an extent the argument was able to influence the government in a way and it reduced the amount of fund that it allocated to this program thereby making it difficulty for these colleges to provide their services effectively. Despite this, the spirit of these colleges has never died as they went ahead to source for funds from other sources and willing donors. “The paradox of developmental education in the United States is that, while community college policy affirms its importance for achieving the community college mission, the funding to support developmental education is not always sufficient to support the numbers of students who need such assistance, (Davis J.L. 1999)
The move by American community colleges to offer developmental education has continued to draw mixed reactions from different groups and individuals. These are people who think that developmental education should not be offered to persons who do not have enough skills to handle such courses. They maintain that such education should only be provided in adult schools, in job training programs and in the private sector however, these arguments are particularly advanced by college faculties which think that if students are equipped with necessary skills for them to handle courses then they would be at a better position to handle similar courses. Though this argument seems to be sound, it cannot be put into consideration as doing so would contradict the very goals of today’s nature of education which is, to produce well rounded students who can meet the current job demands.
It is argued that high schools do not equip students with necessary skills and that is why there are a lot many students who are seeking for opportunities in community colleges. Going by the definition and the goals for developmental education, students who are not well equipped with skills needed for them to join colleges are enrolled to improve their skills so that they could meet and accomplish their goals. It is here that the question arises, who is eligible for these colleges or what criteria is used to determine who is who? What is done is that students who apply for these colleges are given a placement test so that their mathematics, writing and reading skills could be assessed and those who do not attain the prescribed target are enrolled in respective and appropriate developmental education. (Bailey T. 2009)
Despite the role that is played by community colleges, the federal government continues to under fund them. It is a fact that no society would develop if the level of illiteracy is high and the fact of the matter is that these colleges work to achieve this end but the government undermines their efforts. The importance of developmental education offered by the American Community colleges has not yet dawned on many policy makers and perhaps that is why they continue to ignore their roles. This is evident for example when we look at Illinois case where it is a government policy that developmental education receives funds at a considerably lower rate than baccalaureate oriented courses.
Opponents of this kind of education argue that it is very costly and thus it demands a lot of tax payers’ money. Citizens feel burdened to finance the provision of developmental education to academically deficient students. “Taxpayers and their legislative representatives frequently object to paying time and again for the remediation of the academic deficiencies of a student at each level of the educational pipeline” (Anita C 1987)
Though these criticisms exist, the role it plays in the society can’t be underscored. American community colleges act as a bridge to join universities where they would pursue various degrees. Though students who join these colleges get an opportunity to join higher level colleges they do not have favorable outcomes than those who join colleges directly. It is argued that the more course work is taken in remedial classes the more remedial attention is needed with minimal likelihood of good performance. Most of students who join community colleges do not make it to the end for example a research that was conducted in Florida in the periods 2000 to 2007, only half of them completed their studies but the situation is different in other colleges
Developmental education effectiveness in community colleges is hard to assess but generally speaking, students who take this education are less competent and less prepared for college work than those who do not but this is contradicted by a survey that was conducted in Ohio which showed that students who take developmental courses are more likely to persist in other colleges compared to students who do not. The survey also showed that these students are able to succeed in life than their counterparts in other colleges and those who do not take developmental courses. (Akatsuka C. and Ishida-Babineau, E., 2005)
Of late the government has changed its perception towards developmental education. Florida’s community colleges for example has incorporated career advising, provides supplemental resources and giving students instructional techniques.
In short most governments have awakened to the fact that developmental education is useful. They have increased its funding to improve the level of education and competence. The same is happening in Tennessee where the government is running a pilot project in five colleges to test the effectiveness of redesigned developmental programs and abandon its old ‘one size fit’ lectures. It should be noted that provision of a well designed developmental education in American community colleges is a positive step towards inequality reduction in educational opportunities. It should be understood that both community colleges and the four year institutions have a role to play in society and thus they should work synergistically.
Akatsuka C. and Ishida-Babineau, E., 2005. Annual Review Report for Developmental Education. For Academic Year 2004 – 2005. Accessed from
http://windward.hawaii.edu/Assessment/Documents/2005/2005_Prog_Review_De v_Education.pdf. Anita C., 1987. Controversies Surrounding Developmental Education in the Community College. ERIC Digest. Retrieved from http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-926/community.htm
Bailey T. 2009. Rethinking developmental education in community college. Available at http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/DefaultFiles/SendFileToPublic.asp?ft=pdf&FilePath= c:Websitesccrc_tc_columbia_edu_documents332_672.pdf&fid=332_672&aid= 47&RID=672&pf=ContentByType.asp?t
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Davis J.L. 1999. Developmental Education Paradox. Vol 1, No 3. Accessed at http://occrl.ed.uiuc.edu/Newsletter/1999/fall1999_7.asp
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