Florida Developmental Education Reform:

How Colleges are Paving Pathways to Student Success

In 2013, the Florida Legislature dramatically changed how Florida’s state colleges support students who need extra academic help to succeed in college-level courses.1 Before the law changed, all incoming students were required to take assessment tests to gauge whether they were academically ready for college-level courses. Students who fell short had to enroll in developmental courses, which did not earn them college credit.

As a result, some students had to take one or more semesters of developmental classes before ever earning college credit. Under the new law, certain students no longer have to take the tests or developmental courses, and can enroll directly into classes that earn them college credit.   Read more about the law here

Florida colleges have stepped up by providing students with extra academic supports to help them succeed in credit-earning courses. These supports are essential to ensure the legislature’s goal is realized: for Florida college students to successfully complete a credential — on time and at low-cost — that sets them on a path to a rewarding career.

Daytona State College’s English Studio and Miami Dade College’s mix of math academic supports are just two examples of how Florida colleges are implementing Florida developmental education reform. Read about each program below, and check out the videos to hear students’ perspectives on these programs.

Meet Daytona State’s English Studio students

Meet Miami Dade’s MAT0029/MGF1106 students


Under Florida Senate Bill 1720, the legislature tasked Florida’s public state colleges with redesigning developmental education course delivery, beginning with the fall semester of 2014. Where the traditional delivery model resulted in students taking multiple semesters of non-credit bearing courses, institutions now had to use one of four instructional strategies to shorten the time to student success:

Co-requisite developmental instruction or tutoring which supplements credit instruction while a student is concurrently enrolled in a credit-bearing course. For example, a student would be enrolled in a credit-bearing course and take a related lab/course to supplement their learning.

Compressed developmental instruction accelerates student progression from developmental instruction to college-level coursework by reducing the length of the course. Course delivery is more intense and courses are offered in a variety of shortened timeframes to allow students to progress quickly. For example, a course that was originally scheduled to meet once a week for 16 weeks could meet twice a week for 8 weeks.

Modularized developmental instruction is customized and targeted to address specific skills gaps through courses that are technology-based and self-paced. Course material is divided into sub-unit parts and allows students to master targeted skill area deficiencies. For example, one three-credit course could be converted into three one-credit courses, each targeting a different set of concepts to master.

Contextualized developmental instruction is content related to a student’s program of study or meta-majors. For example, if a student were studying business or education, their writing prompts and or math would be related to those areas.2

Institutions were also required to offer enhanced advising to newly-enrolled students to help them navigate their coursework and decide whether to opt into developmental education classes.  To help guide students on academic pathways that helped them successfully complete a credential without the time and expense of unnecessary courses, institutions were required to implement “meta-majors.” “Meta-majors” are groupings of degree programs meant to help students select core courses that align with their academic and career goals.


1Florida Senate Bill 1720, 2013, https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2013/1720
2Division of Florida Colleges, Florida College System Development Education Accountability Reports. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education, 2016.

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