College Readiness

Improving equitable outcomes for all students through access and success.

Nearly two-thirds of all students who enroll in community college test below college ready in Math and/or English. Of these students, 50% place two or more levels below college ready in at least one subject area. Each of these women and men enroll in college with the intent of attaining a degree, yet 72% of them will not graduate, even after eight years.

Regardless of the obstacles, all students deserve a chance to achieve their dreams—and that is why we do what we do.


Achieving the Dream and five national organizations have endorsed developmental education principles that will help community colleges transition from a system that serves some students well to a system that serves all students well. The principles reflect much of what Achieving the Dream colleges have accomplished with the dedicated work of their faculties in this area over the past decade. The principles also unite knowledge and information from research, policy, and practice – all essential ingredients in advancing student success and completion.


Here are the Core Principles endorsed by Achieving the Dream and partners. 

Principle 1 Every student’s postsecondary education begins with an intake process to choose an academic direction and identify the support needed to pass relevant credit-bearing gateway courses in the first year.

Principle 2 Enrollment in college-level math and English courses or course sequences aligned with the student’s program of study is the default placement for the vast majority of students.

Principle 3 Academic and nonacademic support is provided in conjunction with gateway courses in the student’s academic or career area of interest through co-requisite or other models with evidence of success in which supports are embedded in curricula and instructional strategies.

Principle 4 Students for whom the default college-level course placement is not appropriate, even with additional mandatory support, are enrolled in rigorous, streamlined remediation options that align with the knowledge and skills required for success in gateway courses in their academic or career area of interest.

Principle 5 Every student is engaged with content of required gateway courses that is aligned with his or her academic program of student – especially in math.

Principle 6 Every student is supported to stay on track to a college credential, from intake forward, through the institution’s use of effective mechanisms to generate, share, and act on academic performance and progression data.

Focus Areas

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Focus Area Description

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